We remember Cowden and Hatfield

16 October 2018

Mick Whelan, general secretary of ASLEF, the train drivers’ union, today paid tribute to those who died – and were injured – in the Cowden train crash 24 years ago and in the Hatfield rail crash 18 years ago.


Five people were killed and 13 were injured when two trains collided head-on in heavy fog on a single-line section of track near Cowden station on the Uckfield branch of the Oxted line in Kent on 15 October 1994.


Four people died, and more than 70 people were injured, when a GNER InterCity 225 travelling from London to Leeds was derailed, just south of Hatfield station in Hertfordshire, on 17 October 2000.


Mick said: ‘Today we pause for a moment to remember those who lost their lives, and who were injured, at Cowden and Hatfield.


‘As an industry we should never forget those who died, and all those whose lives were changed, because of those two incidents. And, as an industry, we should never forget the lessons that we learned in what is, and always will be, a safety-critical industry.’


Mick added: ‘Hatfield exposed the serious shortcomings of the privatised infrastructure company Railtrack. The subsequent inquiry revealed that the company – which put profit before safety – had failed in its duty of care to passengers and workers.


‘As some people talk about privatising Network Rail we should reflect on what that means and where it goes. Private companies put profit – and their dividends to shareholders –before safety and take short cuts which result in accidents, injuries and deaths.


‘In a safety critical industry there is no room for a company, or chief executive, who wants his managers to take short cuts at the expense of fare-paying passengers, and those of us who work in the industry, and put safety, delivery, and public service first.’

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