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Paddington Rail Tragedy: Railtrack to appeal against signal ban

  : Saturday, October 30, 1999
Railtrack, Britain's railway infrastructure owner is to appeal against an order preventing it from using signal SN109, the signal which Driver Hodder passed at red in the disaster at Ladbroke Grove on 5 October.
Following the accident, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) served an enforcement order in respect of the signal requiring Railtrack cease to use it until "effective means" had been found to prevent it being passed at red.

The company is also to appeal against two other improvement notices on signals.

A spokesman for railtrack said that the appeal was "purely a legal point - there is no objection to doing the work". Railtrack is objecting to wording in the notices which "accuse us of a breach of statutory provisions amounting to a criminal offence. This is emphatically denied", he said.

The improvement notices require work to be done by 6 November, but because of the appeal, this date has been set aside.

The line into Paddington station from Ladbroke Grove, the site of the accident was re-opened last week, but with a reduced service and with line on which signal SN109 is situated taken out of use.

The revelation comes on the day that the HSE's second interim report into the disaster shows that signal SN109 is badly sighted so that overhead equipment can obscure it from a driver's view. In another report produced earlier by an independent safety expert for the train drivers' union ASLEF, the poor visability of the signal was confirmed and it indicated that as many as half of the signals around Paddington had similar problems.

It also comes as Railtrack's half yearly profits are announced which amount to some £235 million - a figure which makes a yearly target of 450 million very achievable. (This compares with £428 million for the year 1998/99.)

A Distraction
The chief inspector of railways, Vic Coleman said: "They have a right to appeal but I am disappointed because, for me, it is a bit of a distraction and it is a shame. He added "They have appealed but they have indicated that they will comply with the notices and I find that odd." Jonathan Bray, who is the campaigns director for the pressure group 'Save Our Railways', expressed his views saying that he was "astonished" at the appeal and "Instead of contesting the matter, Railtrack should be making a commitment to re-invest its profits to deal with safety issues as soon as possible."
Web Sources
Railtrack challenges crash signal ban
BBC 29 Oct 99
Paddington: crash investigation delayed
Yahoo 29 Oct 99
New Railtrack profits row
ThisIsLondon 29 Oct 99

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