Rail Accident (Sandridge)

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 James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead 12:00 am, 24th July 1968

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will now make a statement on the preliminary findings of the inquiry into the railway accident at Sandridge on 12th June.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Longden Mr Gilbert Longden , South West Hertfordshire

asked the Minister of Transport what were the findings of the inquiry into the fires which caused a fatal accident in a train at Sandridge on the St. Pancras-Bedford line on 12th June last; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

The cause of the accident was a total seizure of a gear-box as a result of lack of lubrication. This led to the failure of a universal joint, which ruptured the main fuel tank. The fire which resulted spread rapidly along the underside of the two rear vehicles, but did not penetrate into the passenger accommodation. The inspecting officer, who held the public inquiry on 2nd July, will complete and publish his report as soon as possible. Meanwhile I understand that the British Railways Board has decided to withdraw all vehicles of this type from this busy route as soon as this can be arranged.

Photo of Mr James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead

I am grateful to the Minister for confirming that these two-car Craven units will be withdrawn. He will remember that I asked him to withdraw them some weeks ago and that he then refused—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Member must ask a question.

Photo of Mr James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead

How is it that the Minister will now withdraw them whereas he was not prepared to withdraw them at an earlier date?

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

The problem is that the vehicles on this route have to be built to work over the City widened lines to Moorgate, where clearances are restricted. There are a limited number of vehicles which could be used on this service, but the problem is being studied by British Rail as a matter of urgency.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Longden Mr Gilbert Longden , South West Hertfordshire

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that my constituents are becoming very disturbed indeed at the increasing number of fires on this line and that the Transport Users' Consultative Committee has unanimously demanded an independent inquiry to report to Parliament? Will he say why, in the new design, the number of doors has been reduced from 20 to four?

Photo of Mr Richard Marsh Mr Richard Marsh , Greenwich

Because there was a great deal of interest in the matter, I should have liked to make an interim statement before the report was published, but I must ask hon. Members to await the publication of the full report in which the whole argument is discussed.