Detectives to question every crash passenger

Click to follow
The Independent Online

THE SENIOR officer heading the inquiry into last week's Paddington rail crash said yesterday that detectives wanted to speak to every person who was on the two trains involved to build up an exact picture of the sequence of events.

THE SENIOR officer heading the inquiry into last week's Paddington rail crash said yesterday that detectives wanted to speak to every person who was on the two trains involved to build up an exact picture of the sequence of events.

British Transport Police Superintendent Nick Bracken said his team were looking into whether any individual or body could face a criminal prosecution over the collision between the First Great Western express and a local Thames Trains service. He added that anyone found to have made intentionally bogus reports that friends or relatives were missing could be prosecuted for wasting police time.

Supt Bracken is in charge of 40 detectives working from the incident room at BTP's station in Hammersmith, west London, to which the focus of the investigation is moving. In addition, 12 officers from the Thames Valley force, 20 from the Metropolitan Police and others from Wiltshire and Gloucestershire have been collecting and examining evidence.

He said the aim of the inquiry was to determine how people died and to look into any possible criminal proceedings. "It is too early to say but we are looking to see if there was any individual or corporate criminal liability," he said. "Corporate manslaughter has been mentioned and we are looking to see if there is any evidence to support that."

"We are ensuring ... that all documentary and technical evidence in relation to signal 109 [which was passed at red] and the trains is collated and systematically examined."

Leaders of the train drivers' union, Aslef, issued tough new safety guidelinesyesterday "instructing" its 14,000 members to stop services "immediately" if safety devices were faulty and to continue only if a second qualified driver was deployed in the cab.

Union officials said that could mean services being halted between stations, and train operating companies argued that it could constitute a breach of codes issued by the Health and Safety Executive's rail inspectorate and be potentially dangerous. An official at the Association of Train Operating Companies said there were very strict rules for "detraining" passengers and that it might be unsafe to leave services stranded.

The union urged all passenger and freight train companies to send representatives to a "summit" on safety at Aslef headquarters in north London.

Mr Rix last week gave the companies until yesterday to assure train drivers that automatic train protection systems and radios would be installed in all train cabs. He said all the firms had responded and the union had suspended a ballot on industrial action.

The industry's biggest union, the RMT, is expected today to announce a decisive vote in favour of nationwide industrial action over safety by more than 6,000 guards and inspectors. Train companies are understood to be considering an injunction to halt disruption.

Comments