TODAY marks 11 years to the day since a tragic train crash in Southall which claimed the lives of seven passengers.
Five minutes before it was due to arrive at Paddington, at 1.15pm, the packed InterCity train from Swansea collided with an empty gravel train just east of Southall station.
The cargo train was reversing across the path of the incoming passenger train, which struck at a speed of 90mph, causing devastation in the second and third carriages.
A massive rescue operation was launched within half and hour. Beyond those who lost their lives, another 170 people were classified as walking wounded. Two police officers, who sprinted from nearby and were the first members of the emergency services on site, reported a scene of utter carnage, with bodies thrown clear of the carriages.
The express train was fitted with two multi-million pound electronic safety systems, but an investigation launched by the Health and Safety Executive quickly established that neither was operating at the time of the accident.
The driver was initially charged with manslaughter but the case was dropped. Operator Great Western Trains was ultimately fined £1.5m for not having a system to ensure high speed trains were not operated for long journeys with an inoperative automatic warning system, which alerts drivers when a train passes through a red light.
Following the crash, First Great Western now requires all high speed trains to have its automatic train protection system switched on.