Freight Train Derailments

Oral Answers to Questions — Railways – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th July 1968.

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Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington 12:00 am, 24th July 1968

asked the Minister of Transport how many freight train derailments occurred in the 12th months ended 30th June, 1968; and what were the comparable figures in each of the previous five years.

Photo of Mr Neil Carmichael Mr Neil Carmichael , Glasgow Woodside

Firm figures for 1968 are not yet available, but there were 284 freight train derailments in 1967. I will, with permission, circulate the comparable figures for earlier years in the OFFICIAL REPORT. TO put 1967 figures in proper perspective there was an average of about 3 freight train derailments per million freight train miles.

Photo of Mr Peter Mills Mr Peter Mills , Torrington

But is not this a most disturbing situation? Some of us are deeply disturbed that a very serious accident will happen, with the loss of lives, before long. Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to overcome this problem, perhaps by reducing the speed limit?

Photo of Mr Neil Carmichael Mr Neil Carmichael , Glasgow Woodside

The speed limit has been reduced on two occasions. It was reduced from 55 m.p.h. to 45 m.p.h. between 1963 and 1966. The Chief Inspecting Officer of the railways has discussed at length the whole question of freight train derailments with the Railways Board and is satisfied with the steps which it is taking.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

In order to avoid public anxiety arising from this Question, would my hon. Friend agree that British Railways are still the safest in the world and that the toll of deaths from accidents on the roads is teriffic compared with the toll on the railways?

Photo of Mr Neil Carmichael Mr Neil Carmichael , Glasgow Woodside

I agree that British Railways are safer relatively than any other railway in the world. But that is no cause for complacency. If my hon. Friend and other hon. Members read the annual report of the Chief Inspecting Officer, they will see that the question of derailments is dealt with fully. The Chief Inspecting Officer is satisfied that the Railways Board is doing all that is necessary.

Following are the figures:

1963188
1964208
1965235
1966259
1967284

The provisional figure for 1968 up to 30th June is 155.