HSE : Thursday February 24, 2000
First Great Western welcomes publication of the Southall rail inquiry report
First Great Western today welcomed the publication of the report of the Health and Safety Commission’s inquiry, headed by Professor John
Uff QC, into the causes of the Southall rail accident.
The accident happened on 19 September 1997, when a High Speed Train operated by Great Western Trains collided with a freight train. Seven passengers died and 147 were taken to hospital.
The Inquiry was formally opened on 24 February 1998 and adjourned until legal proceedings were completed on 27 July 1999. Great Western Trains
pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court in July to an offence under the Heath and Safety at Work Act arising out of this incident. At that time it assured the court that there was a dedication
within the Company to finding out what happened and to co-operating fully with this Inquiry. The Inquiry was re-opened on 20 September 1999 and closed on 20 December 1999.
Great Western Trains was acquired by FirstGroup in 1998 and became First Great Western (FGW).
Dr. Mike Mitchell, recently appointed Rail Director of FirstGroup said:
"The Southall train crash was a terrible tragedy. It involved a Great Western train driven by a Great Western driver. GWT fully accepted its share of responsibility for the events of that
"In the light of the accident, we made changes to the way we work. In particular, FGW has been working hard to increase the use of the
Automatic Train Protection (ATP) system to the greatest extent possible. The company operates 100 per cent of its High Speed Trains with ATP functioning, where the necessary trackside equipment is in
place. As recommended by Sir David Davies, in his report on Automatic Train Protection, published on Tuesday (22 February), we will persevere with ATP, until such time in the future as new technology
is developed for use on the railways."
"We have accept and have already complied with four of the five main recommendations of the Uff report which relate specifically to FGW. The
fifth, in relation to the extension of ATP, will be developed in consultation with Railtrack. We are studying the wider implications of the report and will play a full part in the industry-wide
discussion to ensure that the lessons of Southall are properly learnt."
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- First Great Western