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Author Topic: Ladbroke Grove (Paddington) train crash - 5 Oct 1999 - anniversaries, memories and publications  (Read 18782 times)
BBM
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« Reply #45 on: October 05, 2014, 10:16:16 pm »

I also remember the morning well. I took the very last departure from TWY which made it through to PAD, passing Ladbroke Grove about 15-20 minutes before the crash. In those days I used to walk from PAD to Notting Hill Gate and as I turned from Leinster Terrace into the Bayswater Road I heard a very loud but distant bang which I remember I thought came from behind me, it certainly made me turn round, it must have echoed from the nearby buildings. A few minutes later I could see ahead of me a very tall plume of smoke rising into the clear sky. I thought it must be a major building fire in the Westbourne Park area, but about 20 minutes later I was routinely checking the uk.railway newsgroup and was amazed to read the first reports of the crash.

I've actually just managed to find that very thread on uk.railway: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/uk.railway/ERTKcbtSDpk%5B1-25-false%5D
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PhilWakely
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« Reply #46 on: October 05, 2014, 10:28:30 pm »

I remember the day clearly. The wife and I had been on holiday in British Columbia and that was the day we flew home. Vancouver is 8 hours behind London, so we woke up to the news having had an early night in preparation for our flight home. Our son was at home in Exeter and was due to travel by train to London that day. All we knew was that there had been a crash involving an HST outside Paddington, so we were naturally a little concerned and got on the 'phone as quickly as possible. Thankfully his train was not the one affected (he actually travelled up to Waterloo).

Ironically, our son's bloodied face was the image broadcast around the world a few years later as he was on the train involved in the Upton Nervet incident.

Our thoughts today are with the families of those involved in the Ladbroke Grove crash.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #47 on: October 05, 2019, 03:20:33 am »

Today, 5th October 2019, marks the 20th anniversary of the Ladbroke Grove rail crash. Following this disaster there was a step change in safety management and regulation of the railways in the UK. Recommendations from the official inquiry into the disaster led directly to the setting up of the Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB) and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB). Whilst the primary cause of the disaster was a signal passed at danger (SPAD) the inquiry found that there were numerous contributory factors including train protection, signal sighting, flank protection, signalman complacency, management and regulatory failings. It's possible that if just one of those contributory factors had been addressed the disaster may never have happened.

31 people lost their lives. One of the darkest days on the post-privatisation railways.

Are things better on the railways today? The statistics suggest they are. But, could complacency be setting in again?

From the BBC:

Quote
Paddington rail disaster: Survivor fears safety 'could be slipping'

A Paddington rail disaster survivor has said he fears safety standards may be slipping 20 years after the crash.

Thirty-one people died when two trains collided almost head-on after a driver missed a red signal on 5 October 1999,

In 2018-19, 304 trains passed through red signals, a 10-year high, according to official data for England, Wales and Scotland.

"The risk now is that standards might drop," said Jonathan Duckworth, chair of the Paddington Survivors Group. He was one of 227 people hospitalised when his First Great Western train collided with another train at Ladbroke Grove, about two miles from its destination of Paddington, at a combined speed of about 130mph.

'Continually learning'

In the 10 years following 1999 the number of Signals Passed at Danger (Spads) more than halved, from 593 to 273. But the number has begun to creep up again and July saw 41 Spads, more than one a day, the highest number in a single calendar month for 12 years.

The UK has "one of the safest railway networks in Europe", rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said. He added: "We are continually learning how to make our railways safer, that is the legacy of a terrible disaster such as this. "But disasters could happen any time. That is why one of my many jobs is to ensure we have safety hardwired into every decision that they make."

A 70-metre wall of fire engulfed the two trains as fuel caught alight following the collision at about 08:10 BST on a Tuesday morning 20 years ago.

"We went through a massive fireball. I could feel the heat coming through the windows," Mr Duckworth said. "I had no idea what was going on. I thought perhaps it was a bomb. We basically derailed and overturned, so our coach ended up on its side. There was a bit of a battle to get out. It's not easy to get out of an overturned carriage." When he got out Mr Duckworth saw "smoke billowing out from charred carriages" lying on their sides as police and rescuers swarmed over the wreckage to try to locate trapped survivors. It would take days to remove all the bodies from the wreckage.

The outcry that followed led to the biggest-ever safety reform of the country's rail network. A series of complex public inquires culminated in two reports by Lord Cullen. The inquiry found the crash was caused by the Thames Trains service travelling from Paddington passing through a red signal. But Lord Cullen concluded the crash was the culmination of "a catalogue of failures to act". He levelled severe criticism at Thames Trains for its "slack and less than adequate" safety culture. It was fined £2m in 2004. Railtrack, Network Rail's predecessor, was accused of a "lamentable failure" to introduce safe signalling systems in the entrance to Paddington station.

Paddington was supposed to be a watershed but a series of fatal rail crashes followed at Hatfield in 2000, at Selby in 2001 and at Potters Bar in 2002.

The Paddington Survivors Group, set up to help victims and bereaved families cope with trauma, campaigned to improve rail safety. Under pressure from the group, a train protection warning system that halted trains passing through red signals became industry standard. The group worked with the Office for Rail and Road and Network Rail to reorganise the industry in the wake of the crash.

Network Rail, which superseded Railtrack in 2002, was fined £4m in 2007 for health and safety breaches in the run-up to the Paddington crash, after years of campaigning by the survivors group.

In addition to July seeing the highest number of Spads for more than a decade, the past 12 months has seen 10 trains pass red signals and reach the "conflict point" - the position along the track at which a collision could theoretically take place. The average over the past five years has been between four and five. Concern over the the increase led the Rail Safety and Security Board (RSSB) to write to Network Rail and all train and freight operating companies.

Mark Phillips, RSSB chief executive, said the 20th anniversary of the disaster was "a timely reminder of what can go wrong if we don't keep our eyes on the ball. We need to look at current train protection technology and industry initiatives, and ask whether enough is being done," he added.

Mr Duckworth said: "The risk is now that there hasn't been a serious rail crash for 20 years, standards might drop and focus might change. The industry needs to keep recognising that safety is of great importance, because though these incidents don't happen anymore, when they do occur they are devastating."
« Last Edit: October 05, 2019, 03:26:24 am by bignosemac » Logged

grahame
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« Reply #48 on: October 05, 2019, 09:04:13 am »


Are things better on the railways today? The statistics suggest they are. But, could complacency be setting in again?


That is an excellent pair of questions that need to be asked from time to time.

In 20 years, the number of train services run has grown.  Any increase in SPADs is unwelcome but has the number of journeys per SPAD also increased - which would be a positive stat.  And are the changes in SPAD numbers real, or the effect of changed reporting procedures and a continuing move from smaller signal boxes and manual systems where (perhaps) incidents weren't always reported to signalling centres which automatically log.

Don't get me wrong - one SPAD is one too many ... but we need to understand the stats.   And - delighted - that the current general safety record is so much better than the general safety record 20 years back.
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« Reply #49 on: October 05, 2019, 09:14:19 am »

Indeed, I remember it very well.  We need to be very careful about the SPAD statistics though.  I'm sure the majority were very minor, possibly a slight misjudgement in braking and passing a signal by a few yards, and trapped by the TPWS equipment well within the safety zone ahead of the signal.  I don't think we will know exact details of every case but don't forget it includes SPADS on non-passenger lines as well, e.g. in depots.

I'm not trying to make excuses, just trying to be a bit realistic.  It's not, and never will be a perfect world out there.

Quote
Number of signals passed at danger (SPADs) without authority on the mainline. Each SPAD is assigned a score between zero (no risk) and 28 (very high risk):

Figures for 2018/2019 for
Potentially severe (score >= 20): 16
Potentially significant (16 - 19): 65
No significant risk (0 - 15): 202
Unclassified: 21

For comparison with previous years: https://dataportal.orr.gov.uk/statistics/health-and-safety/rail-safety/signals-passed-at-danger-spads-on-network-rail-controlled-infrastructure-table-525/
« Last Edit: October 05, 2019, 09:22:21 am by SandTEngineer » Logged

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« Reply #50 on: October 05, 2019, 10:11:01 am »

I wonder why the number of ‘unclassified’ SPADs was so high last year (21)?
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« Reply #51 on: October 05, 2019, 12:39:50 pm »

The absence of any fatal accidents* to passengers in any one single year might be due to good luck.
The lack of passenger fatalities* for so many years strongly suggests a great improvement in rail safety.

The increase in reported SPADs is certainly cause for concern, but I would urge not being unduly alarmed by this. A minor misjudgement in stopping at a signal, resulting in stopping a few meters beyond, is unlikely to have serious consequences, and in years gone by was probably not even reported.
And of course if a train stopped just beyond a semaphore signal, the signal could still be observed and the train re-started when it cleared. Cant do that with colour light signals which are now nearly universal.

Not all SPADS are dangerous, and some ARE potentially dangerous, but are true accidents with no one to blame. I was on a train, many years ago that passed a red signal. Relying on my imperfect memory the sequence of events was;

Large tree blocking the line, observed by off duty railman.
Signalman informed, relevant signals put back to danger.
Driver of train had just passed a green signal, and found the next signal at red. Emergency braking applied promptly.
Without any preliminary caution signal, it was not possible to stop by the red.
Red colour light signal passed at an estimated 25 MPH.
Train collided with tree, but speed was then down to walking speed.

So whom was to blame ? no one in my view, it was a true accident, fortunately without any serious consequences. Yet it was undoubtedly a signal passed at danger.


*Excluding suicides and trespassers, such tragedies are no more the fault of the railway than "head in gas oven" suicides were the fault of the gas board.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2019, 12:46:29 pm by broadgage » Logged

A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
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« Reply #52 on: October 05, 2019, 01:59:38 pm »

Ladbroke Grove was a particularly harrowing one, made worse by the lack of information about the extent of casualties in the immediate aftermath. There were reports of dozens of cars left at the station car park in Reading that evening. I was away at the time in Norfolk, and inevitably thoughts were of who among our friends and neighbours might be involved.

I am not sure though that it is fair to include the Selby/Great Heck accident in the list demonstrating the deficiencies in Network Rail's approach to safety. It was the most unfortunate set of coincidences that saw a vehicle crash onto the line, an express hit it and derail and to run into a fast freight on the opposing line, more akin to the Ufton Nervet crash. Incidentally, by tragic coincidence, the recent death of PC Andrew Harper was on the road that leads to the bridge that has replaced the crossing at Ufton.

I have also been on a train that ran past its stop point (I think not strictly a SPAD, as I think the signal in question is west of the station) when it ran past the end of the platform at Pangbourne. The driver was clearly very shaken. He walked back through the train telling the passengers that his train (a Turbo) failed to respond to the brakes in time. It was I believe in the autumn, so probably poor railhead conditions. We had to wait for him to be allowed to take the train back to the platform. There was no danger to anyone, but I guess the driver would have been disciplined as a result.

Shortly after, I heard a group of what were clearly railway employees (but not drivers) discussing SPADs, the consensus seeming to be that mostly it was simply driver inattention, and the tone was clearly not sympathetic to drivers. However we should remember that the drivers of the trains involved were (if I recall correctly) all among the fatalities in the spate of accidents around the turn of the century   
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SandTEngineer
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« Reply #53 on: October 05, 2019, 02:09:14 pm »

This was posted elsewhere and I missed it originally: https://www.rssb.co.uk/Insights-and-News/Latest-Updates/Rail-safety-body-voices-concern-over-trains-passing-red-signals

Quote
July saw 41 trains pass red signals, the highest number in a single calendar month since October 2007.

In the last 12 months, 10 trains passed red signals and reached the ‘conflict point’, the position along the track at which a collision could theoretically take place. This is higher than the five-year average of between four and five, and the total for the last financial year 2018-9 which was seven. The risk from signal passed at danger (SPADs) has not been as high since September 2014.

Quote
In the last 20 years, the industry has reduced SPAD risk by more than 90%. It has been over 12 years since the last train accident involving fatalities, hence today Britain has one of the safest railway networks in Europe.

This is partly down to significant improvements in collaboration across the rail industry, and a shared commitment to monitor risk, as well as improved investigation processes which consider underlying causes.

.....and https://www.rssb.co.uk/-/media/Project/RSSB/Platform/Documents/Public/Public-content/Insight-and-News/mark-phillips-spad-letter-19-september-2019.pdf
« Last Edit: October 05, 2019, 02:14:21 pm by SandTEngineer » Logged

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« Reply #54 on: October 06, 2019, 08:18:05 am »

Remember this well, my father was on the HST, standing in the vestibule between coach A & B (I think) towards the rear of the train, luckily for him just some minor whiplash received from the incident. He got out the train and made his way towards Paddington via the tube where he worked in the Telesales office off Platform 1. On arrival they were surprised to see him and sent him straight back home (to Reading) in a taxi.
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« Reply #55 on: October 06, 2019, 09:32:01 am »

There was no danger to anyone, but I guess the driver would have been disciplined as a result.

That would depend on whether he followed the driving procedures for when encountering wheelslip.  If he did then there would have been nothing he could have done and so no disciplinary action is taken.
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