Fatal crashes almost an annual occurrence on Britain’s railways in ’80s and ’90s

Railway lines
Railway lines - (Copyright PA Archive)
16:13pm, Wed 12 Aug 2020
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Britain’s railways are often heralded as being among the safest in Europe.

The Aberdeenshire accident is the first time in more than 13 years that a passenger or member of staff has been killed in a crash.

One woman died and 89 other people were injured when a Virgin Trains service derailed at 95mph on the West Coast Main Line in Grayrigg, Cumbria, in February 2007.

The 300-tonne Pendolino train from London to Glasgow came off the tracks due to a badly maintained and faulty set of points.

Virgin train crash - (Copyright PA Archive)

Network Rail, the firm responsible for the upkeep of the railways, accepted it was at fault and was fined £4 million over safety failures.

The last time a train driver was killed in a crash was at Ufton Nervet, Berkshire, in November 2004.

A total of seven people died when the First Great Western train hit a car deliberately parked on the tracks in a suicide attempt by the vehicle’s driver.

Fatal crashes on Britain’s rail network occurred almost every year during the 1980s and 1990s.

Thirty-five people were killed and 415 others were injured when three trains collided near Clapham Junction station in south London in December 1988.

An inquiry found the primary cause of the crash was incorrect wiring work which led to a signal failure.

Disasters and Accidents – Clapham Junction Rail Crash – 1988 - (Copyright PA Archive)

Five people were killed and a further 88 were injured when two trains collided in Purley, south London, in March 1989.

One of the trains careered down an embankment into gardens below, trapping people on board for several hours.

The trains should have been two-and-a-half minutes apart but one of them went through a red light.

Five people died when two trains were involved in a head-on crash near Cowden, Kent, in October 1994 after one of them failed to stop at a red signal.

A crash between a passenger train and a freight train in Southall, west London, in September 1997 left seven people dead and 139 injured.

An investigation found it was primarily caused by driver error and faulty safety equipment.

RAIL Crash/scene4 - (Copyright PA Archive)

In October 1999, two trains collided at high speed close to Paddington station, also in west London, killing 31 people, with a further 227 taken to hospital.

A series of inquiries found the crash was caused by a Thames Trains service going through a red signal.

Four people were killed and more than 70 were injured when a Leeds-bound express train derailed south of Hatfield station in Hertfordshire in October 2000.

Engineering company Balfour Beatty was condemned in a Health and Safety Executive report for failing to effectively manage the inspection and maintenance of the track.

The company was fined a record £10 million and Network Rail was fined £3.5 million for breaching safety rules in relation to the crash.

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