Thames Trains fined £2m over Ladbrook Grove crash

Thames Trains have been fined a record £2 million for breaches of health and safety law arising out of the Ladbrooke Grove rail collision, in which 31 people died.

The fine followed a one-day sentence hearing at the Old Bailey, where the judge also awarded costs of £75,000 in addition to the fine.

The tragedy occurred on October 5 1999 when a Thames Trains Turbo passenger train passed a signal at red shortly after leaving Paddington station. The Turbo collided head on with a First Great Western high-speed train that was approaching Paddington station.

A fire broke out immediately following the collision and 31 people died – including both train drivers. More than 400 people were injured, many of them seriously.

Thames Trains pleaded guilty at a hearing on December 10 2003 to charges that it breached Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act). The maximum sentence in a Crown Court for a single breach of either Section 2 or Section 3 of the HSW Act is an unlimited fine.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the collision at Ladbroke Grove was led by Steve Walker, Assistant Chief Inspector of Railways.

At the sentencing hearing yesterday, Mr Walker said: "HSE's investigation into the causes of the collision revealed what Thames Trains itself described as 'serious omissions' in its driver training programme. Thames Trains' driver, Michael Hodder, drove his train through signal SN109 when it was showing red. This was the immediate cause of the collision.

"While much has been done since 1999 to improve safety standards on the railways - measures that make a similar incident less likely today - there is no comfort to the bereaved and injured who have heard in court today that this collision could have been avoided.

"Both workers and passengers alike have a right to expect reasonable standards of safety when they travel on the railways. Our thoughts remain with the bereaved and injured."


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