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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - OTE £50,000

£18000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is recruiting for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager / Account Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B software supplier, spe...

Recruitment Genius: Systems Application Analyst - Data, SQL

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing SaaS (Softwar...

Recruitment Genius: Events Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen for an ex...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence