NETWORK RAIL has pleaded guilty to a string of health and safety failures which led to the Ladbroke Grove train crash in 1999, killing 31 people.
The crash on 5 October 1999 happened when a Thames Train approaching Paddington station passed through a red light, hitting a Great Western express train travelling in the opposite direction.
It is thought the driver's view of the signal was obscured by early morning sunlight.
The guilty plea means that Network Rail takes full responsibility for the shortcomings of its predecessor company Railtrack.
In pleading guilty to charges brought under the 1974 Health & Safety at Work Act, Network Rail admits that it failed to ensure that 'persons not in its employment who might be affected thereby were not thereby exposed to risks to their health and safety.' In a statement, Network Rail said: 'The Ladbroke Grove tragedy was a terrible event for everyone involved.
'Lessons have been learnt and the rail industry has changed enormously for the better over the past seven years.' All UK trains have since had a Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) installed.
'This system has greatly reduced the risk of an accident caused by a train passing a red light, ' said Network Rail.
Sentencing was adjourned until 18 December.
The company faces an unlimited ne.