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Post-Ladbroke Grove track improvements go off the rails

NEWS

HEALTH AND Safety Executive (HSE) officials this week revealed that the deadline to implement 17 key safety recommendations made by Lord Cullen after the Ladbroke Grove rail crash, had been missed.

The improvements were demanded by the second part of the report in September. This made 89 recommendations, 40 of which had to be completed by the end of this month.

An HSE update report this week showed that just 23 of the 40 actions due to be brought on line this month had been completed. Of these, 11 will not be in place on the network until June, with the remainder delayed until September - six months late.

The recommendations to improve the track around the Ladbroke Grove area and many of the systems used across the network followed the tragic crash in October 1999. Thirty one people died when two trains crashed head on outside Paddington station.

The news came as Railtrack this week unveiled a new signalling layout for the Paddington to Ladbroke Grove stretch of track. This will be renewed in line with one of Cullen's recommendations and includes proposals to improve signal SN109, the equipment at the heart of the Ladbroke Grove crash.

An HSE spokesman accepted that failure to implement all of the recommendations would disappoint relatives of those that died in the crash. But it added that it was satisfied with the progress made, bearing in mind the number of parties involved, the size of the network and the amount of initiatives being undertaken.

Railtrack's new signalling layout on the track outside Paddington, which is protected by the train protection warning system, will be assessed by her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate.

The layout features around 50 state of the art signals, mounted lower so they can be seen more easily by drivers.

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