HC Deb 13 December 1939 vol 355 cc1184-5
33. Mr. Sorensen

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has any information to give the House respecting the railway accident that occurred on the morning of 7th December, near Wood Street Station, Walthamstow; whether he is satisfied that the existing signalling system on the railways is adequate for fog and air-raid precautions diminished lighting conditions; when improved lighting for passenger coaches on the Leyton and Walthamstow lines is likely to be in complete operation; and what increase in accidents to passengers and staff has taken place during the past three months on the Leyton and Walthamstow lines?

Captain Wallace

This accident occurred when the 9.35 a.m. passenger train from Liverpool Street to Chingford, which was standing at the down home signal at Wood Street, was run into by the 9.45 a.m. train travelling over the same route. One coach of the standing train was derailed and the guard and six passengers were injured. There was thick fog at the time. The circumstances attending the accident are now being investigated. Colour-light signalling is in use on the section of line in question, and I am satisfied that this type of signalling is generally adequate for operation during foggy weather. The signals are shielded from aerial observation by hoods and their brilliance has not been diminished as a result of the lighting restrictions. Some trains equipped with improved lighting will be in service on the Walthamstow line this week, and it is expected that all the rolling stock working these services will be equipped early in the New Year. I am informed that 34 accidents to passengers and staff occurred on the Leyton and Walthamstow lines during the months of September, October and November, 1938; the corresponding figure for 1939 was 45. These figures relate to all types of accidents, and the whole of the increase in 1939 is not necessarily attributable to black-out conditions.

Mr. Sorensen

Is the Minister satisfied that every precaution is being taken to prevent a recurrence of this type of accident, and will he also indicate when the Leyton and Walthamstow lines are likely to have the improved lighting?

Captain Wallace

. I think I said "early in the New Year" in my reply. With regard to the question of accidents, it is the duty of my railway inspecting staff to go into every one of these accidents and see that the lessons, if there are any to be derived from them, are learned and applied.