Paddington 'completely safe', insists Railtrack

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The Independent Online

Rail lines out of Paddington station are "completely safe", Railtrack insisted today, despite continuing concerns about signal safety.

Rail lines out of Paddington station are "completely safe", Railtrack insisted today, despite continuing concerns about signal safety.

The London station will reopen at midnight tonight, with services resuming tomorrow, 16 days after the rail crash which killed 30 people and injured 245.

Richard Middleton, Railtrack's commercial director, told BBC1's Breakfast News: "We have carried out some alterations of the signalling, we have lowered the speed on the approaches to the station.

"And I would like to reassure users of mainline services into Paddington that it is completely safe to travel on."

The decision to re-open Paddington was announced last night, despite warnings from independent experts that signalling there remained a danger.

On Monday night there was another train collision at Lewes, East Sussex, after one driver jumped a red signal, but no one was hurt.

Paddington train services will not be allowed to travel over 50mph on the mile-and-a-half stretch between the Ladbroke Grove crash site and the station.

Peak hour services will be slightly reduced because at least one track will still be out of action. Part of it was controlled by the infamous signal 109, which was passed at red causing the catastrophic collision.

The Health and Safety Executive has ordered that signal 109 be taken out of service indefinitely. It had been over-run on danger eight times in six years and the drivers' union Aslef complained it was poorly sited.

Commenting on the reopening, Railtrack chief executive Gerald Corbett said: "This news is a vital step forward in helping to restore public faith in the railways and demonstrates that safety remains our top priority.

"We have always been acutely aware of the severe disruption the closure has had on passengers and the train operating companies and we have worked closely with the companies to ensure services are reinstated as soon as possible."

Details of the first services to operate in and out of Paddington on Thursday morning are expected to be announced later today.

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