Survivor: 'Priorities are all wrong'

RAIL INDUSTRY Anger over infrastructure firm's growing revenue and its refusal to spend more cash on safety investment
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The Independent Online
ONE MONTH to the day he escaped from the carnage of the Paddington rail crash, Mike Kirwan will be getting on a train again for the first time.

This morning, the 41-year-old is hoping to retrace his steps of October 5, the day his journey from Reading to Paddington ended with such terrible consequences.

Last night Mr Kirwan admitted that he was "apprehensive".

"I have been driving to work since. I have not been consciously avoiding the trains but I suppose unconsciously I have.

"I feel it's about time that I make the effort to take a train," he said."But there's no way I'm going to the front of the train".

The father-of-two was in the first of the second-class coaches of the Great Western train when it collided with the Thames Train coming from London, killing 31 people.

He escaped serious injury but remembers vividly the flames and debris as well as the blood and the terrible burns of other passengers.

"It still occupies my mind," he admitted yesterday.

He reacted angrily to news of that Railtrack had posted increased half- year pre-tax profits of more than pounds 1.3m a day.

"I think they have got their priorities wrong but that's nothing new. One doesn't begrudge them a profit, but not at the expense of safety.

"I think it must be very hard for people who lost family and friends in the crash."

His only contact with the railway bodies since the accident has been in the form of two formal letters - from Railtrack and Thames Trains - offering details of insurers. He has also given a statement to police along with other survivors.

Mr Kirwan, who went back to work as a project managerwithin days of the accident, said life had begun to return to normal.

However, he has maintained contact with people who lived through the crash with him, choosing to talk it through with them rather than seek professional counselling.

"I am still angry about it, about the needless loss of life," he said yesterday, adding: "It was horrific. I will never forget it but I am getting on with life, as you have to."