Slam-door trains `must go by 2003'

A CROSS-PARTY group of MPs called yesterday for the hated "slam- door" trains to be taken out of service or modified for safer passenger use within four years because of the higher risk of deaths if a train is involved in an accident. The average number of deaths in a crash is three times greater when a Mark I slam-door carriage is involved.

The Commons Select Transport Committee blamed the Health and Safety Executive and the rail franchising director for failing to abolish the ageing Mark I trains when the rail industry was privatised.

Gwyneth Dunwoody, the committee chairman, said: "There is a danger and a problem with Mark I rolling stock and we believe it should go. We don't think it's acceptable that companies should have any deals whereby they say, `We are very sorry but we can't afford to get rid of these carriages'.

"We don't want any bargains to be entered into which allow retention of rolling stock which could be a danger to the public. This committee is not happy with safety, which is not far enough up the level of priorities for some people as it should be."

The report called on the HSE, the franchising director, the new Strategic Rail Authority and the train companies to replace and modify the trains by 1 January 2003. "The failure in the first franchising round to secure the withdrawal of Mark I stock must not be repeated."

There are about 2,300 Mark I carriages in use, mainly on three franchises in southern England - South West Trains, Connex SouthCentral and Connex SouthEastern. Connex SouthEastern is committed to replacing them by 2006.

Jimmy Knapp, leader of the rail union RMT, said: "Privatisation, fragmentation and contracting out of the railway is creating a pass-the-buck attitude, with the danger that safety standards could be put on the back burner."

The report also said the rail industry was not doing enough to combat vandalism, which it said was "a very serious and growing threat to railway safety". It called for a three-year programme to clear lineside rubbish and repair all rail boundary fences. A vandalism and trespass hotline should be set up by Railtrack and British Transport Police.

The committee called for the role of rail safety regulator to be taken away from Railtrack and given to an independent safety authority. It said Railtrack's plans for creating an arm's-length organisation were "not acceptable". The Government effectively pre-empted this recommendation on Tuesday when it said it was looking at setting up such a body, which could cut the time taken to find the cause of disasters.

A Railtrack spokesman said there was no criticism of the company implicit in the recommendation, adding: "If someone can come up with a justification that improves safety, then we would consider it." The RMT welcomed the committee's recommendation.

In a crash, the relatively weak body of the Mark I carriages, caused by the method of construction, offers less protection to passengers than modern rolling stock. Also, most carriages have doors that must be slammed shut and have no lock mechanism, so doors can open while the train is moving. This can lead to people falling out or the doors striking people on platforms.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Learning Support Assistant

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a Learning Support A...

Primary Teacher

£90 - £145 per day + travel expenses: Randstad Education Newcastle: Primary Su...

Service Delivery Manager - Software Company

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager Kingston Up...

Year 3 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 3 Primary Teacher in HullA f...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments