“DO NOT let standards fall,” the Bishop of Kensington, in London, Dr Graham Tomlin, has warned rail-safety professionals at a service to mark the 20th anniversary of the Ladbroke Grove rail disaster.
On 5 October 1999, 31 people were killed, and more than 400 were injured, when two trains collided at high-speed a mile-and-a-half west of London Paddington. One of the trains had run a red signal. A total of 570 people were on board the trains, which suffered catastrophic damage.
On Saturday morning, more than 300 people attended a memorial service at St Helen’s, North Kensington, to mark the anniversary. Candles representing the 31 people who died, and one representing the survivors, were lit by family members.
In his sermon, Dr Tomlin gave thanks that there had not been a train disaster on such a scale since that time. “When people get on a train, a bus, a taxi, just as when they buy or rent a home, they should be able to feel safe,” he said.
“So, the message today, to those responsible for safety on our public transport, is to be grateful for that improved safety; yet the memory of this event makes us want to urge even more strongly: Do not let your guard drop, and do not let standards fall. The safety and security of those in your care is paramount.”
Many Grenfell Tower remembrance pins were worn. The North Kensington community had known much grief, Dr Tomlin said. “There is a special poignancy, a resonance between the grief still felt by those affected by the Ladbroke Grove train disaster 20 years ago today, and the grief keenly felt by those who lost loved ones at Grenfell Tower.”
Beforehand, a small gathering of the families of victims, survivors, and first responders laid flowers at the memorial site, and held a minute’s silence at 8.10 a.m.: the time of the crash. Network Rail had agreed to stop running trains for a five-minute period from 8.08 to 8.13 a.m.
The Assistant Commissioner for Fire Stations, Andy Roe, who laid a London Fire Brigade wreath, said: “As we mark 20 years since the devastating Ladbroke Grove rail crash, our thoughts remain with the loved ones of all those who died. It was a tragic incident, and I know it is never far from the minds of all my colleagues who were there.”
Wreaths were also laid by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, and a representative of the London Ambulance Service.