12 December 2018
RMT Press Office:
RMT calls for lessons to be learnt on the 30th anniversary of the Clapham rail disaster
RAIL UNION RMT will today mark the 30th anniversary of the terrible carnage of the Clapham rail disaster, which left 35 dead and injured hundreds more, with a call to ensure such accidents never happen again.
On December 12 1988 a crowded train from Poole to London Waterloo crashed into the back of a stationary Basingstoke service, which had stopped at a red signal. A third train, travelling empty in the opposite direction, hit the wreckage only minutes later.
The ensuing inquiry made 93 recommendations for safety improvements, however, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) warned just before the anniversary that the lessons of Clapham still have not been learnt.
A RAIB report on a collision at London Waterloo on August 15 2017 released last month warned that “parallels with the 1988 Clapham Junction accident show that some of the lessons learnt from this accident are fading from the railway industry’s collective memory”.
No-one was hurt in the incident, but the report found mistakes made were similar to those which caused the fatal crash at Clapham Junction.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash sent condolences to the families and loved ones of victims of the crash and called for vigilance.
“This warning from the RAIB about an eerily similar chain of events at Waterloo should be taken very seriously by the industry as a whole.
“As the RAIB points out the steady loss of experienced workers has been taking place since the break-up of the industry following privatisation 25 years ago.
“The fragmentation of the rail industry that started after Clapham has meant that there is an ever greater disconnect between contractors striving for ever greater profit while Network Rail, responsible for operating, maintaining and renewing rail infrastructure, is stretched to breaking point due to budgetary constraints,” he said.