AWS 'at fault' in Paddington crash

The train driver who took most of the blame for last year's Paddington rail disaster may have been misled by a faulty safety system, according to fresh evidence to go before the inquiry, which starts this week.

Experts commissioned by the relatives of the victims believe that the driver, Michael Hodder, who died in the crash on 5 October, may have been given a false sign that it was safe to pass through a red signal.

Hodder, on his way out of the west London station, sped through signal 109 and smashed into an incoming Great Western express, killing 31 people.

Louise Christian, lead solicitor for the victims, will argue that a track misalignment might have caused the automatic warning system to sound a bell in the cab of the Thames Trains service driven by Mr Hodder which led him to believe it was safe to proceed. The AWS triggers a buzzer to alert drivers to warning signals.

Her suggestion will focus attention on Railtrack, which is responsible for line maintenance.