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Railhub Archive
1999-11-18 DET-001
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions


Prescott: Train signals passed at danger must come down

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safety accidents
John Prescott
Ladbroke Grove

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Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Prescott: Train signals passed at danger must come down

18 November 1999
source Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
type Press release

note Press Notice 11111

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott today called on the rail industry to commit itself to reducing the number of signals passed at danger (SPADs).

Mr Prescott was responding to today's publication by the Health and Safety Executive of the first of the monthly reports on SPADs.

In answer to a Parliamentary Question from Brian White MP (North East Milton Keynes), Mr Prescott said:

"Following the train crash at Ladbroke Grove on 5 October, a number of urgent actions were put in hand to achieve a more open, more responsive and more rigorous culture of safety across the rail industry. As part of these, I asked the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to let me have regular reports for publication monthly, on all signals passed at danger (SPADs). I received the first of those reports on Tuesday and have now placed a copy in the House library. I will ensure that future reports are also placed in the library.
"This first report includes some background information on SPADs and how they are dealt with by the industry and HSE's Railways Inspectorate. It gives statistics for SPADs for the last ten years and splits the figures by month. The annual figures show that the totals have been falling gradually since 1993/94 until the 8% rise in 1998/99, which prompted HSE to demand improvements from the industry on how they responded to SPADs. The monthly figures demonstrate the cyclical nature of the problem, with SPADs tending to peak in October/November, when damp conditions and falling leaves can lead to poor braking performance.

"This October there were 5 serious incidents (which, for instance, breached the 200 yard safety overlap usually allowed at signals), comprising 7% of the total for the month. As well as the industry investigation of every SPAD, HSE will also investigate thoroughly these more serious SPADs. We should not read too much into one month's figures but the October total was significantly lower than last year. The October SPAD figure has only been bettered once in the last ten years. We must not be complacent however. The Ladbroke Grove accident demonstrated all too clearly how a single SPAD can result in catastrophe. That is why it is so important that the rail industry commit to reducing the number of SPADs. I sought this commitment from the industry at the rail summit which I held last month. When the industry reports back to me on 30 November I shall expect nothing less from them than a detailed programme of action."

Railhub Archive ::: 1999-11-18 DET-001


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