Paddington Rail Crash
Rail travel statistically is far safer than travelling by car; but when accidents happen on the rail system they can be truly terrible events. Such was the case on October 5 1999, when a three-car train running from Paddington to Bedwyn in Wiltshire collided at Ladbroke Grove Junction with a high-speed train heading for Paddington.
It appears that a partially obscured signal of unusual design, SN-109, which had been passed at danger eight times in the six years preceding the crash, was missed by the driver of the westbound train. The sun reflecting from the signal may have caused the driver to think it was not at red; he had qualified less than three months previously, and had not been given specific training on the route in question that might have alerted him to the problem spot – a bridge before it meant that there was limited time to register the signal.
At 8.10 a.m. the two trains collided with a combined velocity of 130mph. Diesel fuel from the Bedwyn train ignited, and burned out the first coach in the other, making identification of some of the victims very difficult. Some passengers in the Paddington-bound train had just moved into that front coach as it approached Paddington, preparing to alight.
A total of 575 passengers and staff were on the two trains; 31 died, the last victim losing her fight for life four weeks after the collision; 520 were injured. Subsequent investigations into the causes of the crash led to Thames Trains being fined £2 million, and Network Rail £4 million.
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From Martin on 5th October 2011
Thanks Andrew, you made me realise how pompous some of my own pronouncements on grammar and usage must be. A couple of specific points: the civilised world doesn't end at your own doorstep nor the British coast; and the usage October 5 is common and accepted now in published work for the saving of space used up by 'th' - I would never say October 5, but often write it.Things move on: not so long ago it would have been the day of Our Lord October the 5th or similar.
From Andrew on 5th November 2010
"Such was the case on October 5 1999..." Actually you mean 5 October 1999; this is the UK, not the US. In the civilised world the 5th day of October is abbreviated to 5 October, not October 5.