HC Deb 03 April 1957 vol 568 cc50-1W
Lady Tweedsmuir

asked the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation whether he will make a statement on the inquiry concerning the Aberdonian express that recently went past a signal at Welwyn Garden City, near the scene of the train crash at Welwyn on 7th January.

Mr. Watkinson

As I informed the House on 13th February, an inquiry was held by the Chief Inspecting Officer of Railways into the collision at Welwyn Garden City on 7th January, when an up express train passed two successive home signals at danger and overtook a local train travelling on the same line. Immediately after the accident thorough tests and examinations were made of all the relevant signalling equipment in order to see whether the express driver might have been misled by a false clear indication at the distant signal. All the tests proved satisfactory, and there was nothing to suggest that the signal was in anything but proper working order.

On 8th March an up express passed the same two home signals at danger and stopped safely in the station. The driver stated that the distant signal had been in the clear position. The Chief Inspecting Officer therefore reopened his inquiry in order to find whether by any remote chance a false clear indication of the distant signal might have been caused on both occasions by a fault which was not revealed by the tests on 7th January.

A further and prolonged series of tests were carried out on 8th March and subsequent days in a meticulous search for possible causes of failure, but none has been found. Further investigations are being made as a part of the Chief Inspecting Officer's inquiry into the accident on 7th January, and I am sure my hon. Friend will understand that I am unable to anticipate the finding of his report. It will be published as usual when it is ready.

In the meantime the precaution has been taken of installing in Welwyn Garden City signal box a special indicator which will warn the signalman at once if a false clear indication should be displayed at the distant signal in question.