HC Deb 13 December 1900 vol 88 cc713-4
MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)

I beg to ask the President of the Board of Trade whether the expert advisers of the Department have any reason to believe that the disastrous railway accident at Slough on 16th June might have been entirely avoided had the train been fitted with the most modern high-speed brakes; whether from the moment the brakes were applied until the collision occurred the distance covered was about 600 yards, and the speed was diminished from 55 to 20 miles per hour; whether he is aware that in other countries trains running at similar speed can be brought to a standstill in less than 350 yards; and whether, under the circumstances, he proposes to take any stops to inquire into the efficiency of brakes on all English railways.


I understand that the inspecting officer who inquired into the accident at Slough is of opinion that the disaster would not have been entirely avoided had the train been fitted with "modern high speed brakes." He also points out that the evidence is not clear as to the point at which the brakes were applied; in fact, it is unlikely that the men who were not watching the signals would be exact as to where the train was when the brakes were applied. The inspecting officer himself thinks that at the moment of application the train was little more than 200 yards from the point of collision. I am, also informed that while the reply to paragraph 3 is in the affirmative there is no doubt that brakes in use in this country can be made equally effective over a similar distance. The Board of Trade are not in a position to press railway companies to adopt any particular brake, but I venture to express the hope that the companies will carefully watch the improvements which are-being made and by experiments and otherwise ascertain the advantages of such improvements. On this point I am glad to be able to say that the Department has received a letter from the Great Western Railway Company in which the general manager informs me that "the directors have already ordered that a new and exhaustive series of experiments-as to the efficiency of the brake power upon their trains shall be arranged in the coming spring."