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TPWS more urgent than black boxes, says HSE

COMPULSORY INSTALLATION of black box accident data recorders on all trains could be put back from 2002 to 2005 according to proposals published by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) this week.

It wants to put back the deadline to give operators time to install train protection warning systems (TPWS).

TPWS are intended to stop trains from crashing by applying emergency brakes if a signal is passed at danger. HSE believes installation of these are a priority as they can do more to prevent crashes.

Professor John Uff recommended in his report into the Southall train crash that all trains should be fitted with accident data recorders by 2002 to aid accident investigations.

But both Uff and Lord Cullen, in their report this month into TPWS following the Ladbroke Grove train crash, recommended that TPWS be installed in all trains by 2004 (NCE 5 April).

The HSE's latest proposals are included in a consultation document which will form the basis of the Railway Safety Regulations 2001. Failure to comply with the regulations could lead to prosecution.

All new trains built since 1989 have had the data recorders fitted, but three quarters of trains in operation require retro fitting.

The HSE said it would be difficult for train operators to meet the 2002 target for installing data recorders without delaying installation of TPWS.

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