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Historic Railway Disasters
08 Jan 98

Watford Disaster: HSE Urges Railtrack to Install ATP

A report into a 1996 accident at Watford, issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging Railtrack, the owner of Britain's railway infrastructure to install Automatic Train Protection. The report had been withheld pending the prosecution of the driver Peter Afford who was found "not guilty" of manslaughter at Luton Magistrates Court on 11 March this year. The report makes a total of 21 recommendations. The accident occurred at Watford Junction when the a train from Euston to Milton Keyes overan a red stop signal and was struck by an empty train travelling at about 50 mph (80 km/h). One passenger was killed and 69 were injured. The driver claimed that he had not seen two, previous caution signals and when he saw the red signal, which was obsured by bushes his train was travelling at 68 mph (110km/h) and he could not pull-up in time. His train carried on to the junction into the path of the approaching empty train. Neither driver could do anything to avoid the inevitable collision. Had Automatic Train Protection (ATP) been installed, the driver of the Euston - Milton Keyes train would have been alerted to the caution aspect of the preceeding signals. Railtrack has evaluated ATP, but rejected its implimentation on cost/benefit grounds!



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