Tales of horror open Paddington Inquiry

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A public inquiry into the train crash at Paddington that killed 31 people last year opened today with horrific eye-witness accounts.

A public inquiry into the train crash at Paddington that killed 31 people last year opened today with horrific eye-witness accounts.

The inquiry, likely to last until the end of the year, is expected to result in the recommendation of safety changes for the rail industry. Passengers, rail industry employees and health and safety inspectors are among those who will be called to give evidence.

"We owe it to all those who have suffered in any way as a result of this disaster to make sure that its lessons are fully learned and effective recommendations are made for the future safety of all who travel on this country's railways," said Lord Douglas Cullen, who is heading the inquiry.

The October 5 crash, which also injured 244 people, occurred after the driver of the Thames train jumped a red light 2 miles west of Paddington, bringing his train directly into the path of an incoming high-speed Great Western express.

Both train drivers died in the collision, which took place at the height of morning rush hour.

A passenger in the Great Western high-speed train described the impact to the inquiry as "between an explosion and thunder".

Behzad Khodawizi, who witnessed the crash said he could remember "seeing bits of train flying through the air, higher than the overhead power cables to a height of 20 to 30 metres."

On Tuesday, the Crown Prosecution Service said it would not be filing any criminal charges in connection with the crash.

Another investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, which monitors people's safety at work, is still ongoing. That agency also has power to bring criminal charges.

"Britain should be ashamed of this," Emily Houch of San Jose, California - who was thrown from the train in the crash - said at a news conference before the hearing began.

"You are playing Russian roulette with people's lives," said Houch, who broke her back and suffered burns over 40 percent of her body.

Immediately after the accident, the government pledged that a sophisticated and expensive train safety system would be installed across the rail network by 2003.

Comments