Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seconds from Rail Disaster

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Seconds from Rail Disaster

Article excerpt

Byline: DICK MURRAY

Commuter trains collide - but driver brakes just in time

By Dick Murray, Transport Editor Continued on Page 2 Police and rail staff lead passengers from the trains along the track to safety after the collision in this morning's rush hour

TERRIFIED commuters thought they were "going to die" when two packed trains collided at the height of this morning's rush hour.

The driver of one of the trains is being credited with avoiding a major disaster after spotting the other train ahead of him on the same track and braking sharply. It is believed the second train could have passed a red signal.

Passengers told of their terror as the 8.08 service from Crayford ran into the back of the 7.58 from Sevenoaks, both bound for Cannon Street, at 8.35 just outside Hither Green.

No one was killed or seriously hurt but hundreds of passengers had to be led along the tracks to safety. Eight passengers, including a child, were taken to Lewisham Hospital suffering from minor injuries and shock.

A full investigation involving Connex, which was operating both trains, Railtrack and the Health and Safety Executive is under way. Early indications are that although the Crayford train ran into the back of the Sevenoaks train, it was the Sevenoaks service, which did not stop at Hither Green, that passed a red signal at the London end of the station platform.

Believing he had a clear track in front of him, the Crayford driver, who had stopped at Hither Green, crossed the points and then saw the other train on the same line. He slammed on his brakes, slowing his train dramatically before it "bumped" into the rear of the Sevenoaks service, which should have entered Cannon Street after the Crayford train.

Joanne Laming, who was in the front carriage of the

Crayford train was still shaking and in tears an hour after the smash. Miss Laming said: "There was this banging noise and the windows shuddered terribly.

"People went flying all over the place, the carriage was rocking from side to side and we were convinced it was going to topple over. …

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