5 October is the anniversary of the Ladbroke Grove Rail Crash in London. For those unfamiliar with the accident, the key points (taken from Wikipedia), the crash (also known as the Paddington rail crash) led to the deaths of 31 people and 417 were injured. It remains one of the worst rail accidents in 20th century British history. It was the second major accident on the Great Western Main Line in just over two years, the first being the Southall rail crash of September 1997, a few miles west of this accident. Both crashes would have been prevented by an operational automatic train protection (ATP) system, wider fitting of which had been rejected on cost grounds. This severely damaged public confidence in the management and regulation of safety of Britain’s privatised railway system.
My main memory of the crash was that within a few minutes of the crash happening, I got emails from some friends in Poland and Japan to check whether I was OK. I had moved to London only a few weeks earlier. Although I lived in a different part of London, when trying to get information about accidents and where people are, such geographic details are hard to understand or know – indeed, this can even be an issue if the accident is anywhere within a country, let alone the same city, as I discussed in my post about the Shigaraki Kōgen Train Crash Memorial.
In terms of the Ladbroke Grove crash and its memorial, I included it within my study of modifications made to public transportation memorials, although it was one of the many examples in Europe that has seemingly not seen a modification of any sort. Although I moved to Cardiff in 2000 and have gone past the memorial, which is clearly visible from the line, many times, I’ve yet to visit the memorial. I will try to do so during a future visit to London.
To the victims of the disaster itself, may you rest in peace, and to their families and others caught up in the disaster, I wish you all well.