Rail safety system is behind schedule

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Railtrack admitted yesterday that the nationwide installation of a vital safety system to prevent trains going through red lights was way behind schedule.

Railtrack admitted yesterday that the nationwide installation of a vital safety system to prevent trains going through red lights was way behind schedule.

John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, was said to be "furious" after Railtrack disclosed to an inquiry into the safety of Britain's railways that the high-profile project had been delayed.

Mr Prescott, who has responsibility for transport, has given his backing to the introduction of the train protection warning system (TPWS), which is due to be operating throughout the network by the end of 2003.

Ian Burnett QC, counsel to a joint inquiry into train protection systems convened after the Southall and Ladbroke Grove disasters, revealed that Railtrack's programme for preventing trains from passing red lights was lagging behind its timetable.

Mr Burnett told the first day of the joint inquiry that Railtrack's schedule for the elimination of signals passed at danger had been "sliding" since 1995 and that progress is currently "slower than expected".

A spokesman for the infrastructure company admitted that while some 600 signals had been fitted with the necessary equipment, work was about a month behind schedule. The spokesman said the company was "confident" that the project would be completedon time.

Mr Burnett told the inquiry's joint chairmen, Lord Cullen and Professor John Uff, that the more sophisticated but more expensive automatic train protection system (ATP) would reduce the number of deaths during the next 24 years by more than 50.

Speaking before the start of the inquiry yesterday, relatives of the 38 people killed in the two crashes said the whole TPWS programme should be scrapped in favour of the fail-safe ATP system.

Comments