Letter: The Southall crash

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The Independent Online
Sir All the media coverage of the recent rail disaster at Southall seems to have missed one ironic fact. The old and truly Great Western Railway had a successful form of automatic train control operating on its main lines 70 years ago, and almost certainly on this very piece of track. I quote from The 10.30 Limited - a Book for Boys of All Ages published by the GWR in 1923:

"In their continued efforts to increase the safety of railway travel, the Great Western Railway has installed at some points in its system, what is know as the GWR System of Automatic Train Control combined with Audible Signals. The primary object of this system is to give audible warning to an engine-driver when his train is approaching a distant signal in the On position, and, in the event of this warning being disregarded, automatically apply the brakes so as to ensure the train being pulled up before it reaches the home signal."

The system continued to be used on lines in and out of Paddington until well after railway nationalisation.

John Evans