HC Deb 19 November 1971 vol 826 cc228-9W
Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether he is satisfied that adequate research was conducted into safety aspects on the design of doors for British Rail 100 m.p.h. coaches; whether he is satisfied that adequate tests were carried out on passenger safety before the new coaches were introduced into service; and if he will make a statement;

(2) if he will obtain from British Rail information as to what action was taken after the fatal accident on 19th August to a passenger on one of the new 100 m.p.h. coaches, to ensure the safety of the doors, as to why no modifications were made before a second fatal accident on 1st October, and as to why British Rail did not carry out improvements to the safety of doors on coaches in service until after a third fatal accident on 25th October;

(3) how many accidents involving passengers have occurred since British Rail introduced their new 100 m.p.h. coaches into service; how many were fatal; and if he is satisfied, that following modifications, the doors on coaches in service are now safe;

(4) whether he is conducting a full inquiry into the fatal accidents to passengers on the new 100 m.p.h. coaches recently introduced into service by British Rail; and whether such an inquiry will disclose why doors with inadequate safety of design were put into service.

Mr. Peyton

I very greatly regret that there have been three accidents to passengers, all fatal, since the British Railways Board brought its new Mark II D stock into service. Each resulted from the opening of a door while the train was in motion. I am satisfied that the action taken by the board has now removed this hazard.

The safety of the door locking arrangements on the new stock was very carefully considered and tested by British Railways before the new coaches were introduced.

The first accident, on 19th August, involved a boy of seven. The board took immediate action and by the end of September had produced the prototype of an improved lock. After the second accident, on 1st October, it went ahead with all speed to organise its production and fitting. But when the third accident occurred, on 25th October, the board decided to remove forthwith all interior handles to the locks, and this has now been done.

The board already has in hand a full inquiry, by a senior railway officer not hitherto concerned in any way with what has happened. I do not think a further inquiry by my Department would therefore serve any useful purpose.