7 October 2016
RMT Press Office:
Paddington rail crash survivor pledges support for RMT campaign to defend guards.
A survivor of the Paddington rail crash in October 1999 has pledged her full support for RMT’s campaign to defend the role of the guard on Southern Rail.
In the week that marks the 17th anniversary of the disaster, in which 31 people lost their lives and 520 were injured, Helen Mitchell has written to RMT with the following message of support:
As the anniversary of the Paddington train crash passed yesterday - I wanted to write and offer my voice in support of your dispute with Southern.
As a survivor of the crash in which 31 died and countless others were burnt and injured, I am only too aware of the role of the guard/conductor.
Colin, our guard helped many people and in my eyes was a hero, directing many survivors to safety. What did the drivers do you may ask?
Sadly, they were both immediately killed which for me underlines the deep importance of guards in the event of a serious incident.
We must not forget either that the incident was caused by lazy management and lack of communication.
I wish you well in your endeavours
Mick Cash, RMT General Secretary said,
“We are grateful to Helen Mitchell for contacting the union and pledging her support for our campaign on Southern Rail. Her personal story illustrates just what a crucial role the guards fulfil on our railways, a role that goes way beyond the spin from Southern Rail about the opening and closing of doors.
“The guard was crucial at Paddington 17 years ago just as the guard was crucial in the landslip and derailment incident at Watford just two weeks ago.
“These are facts that cannot and should not be ignored by rail company’s like Southern who are seeking to put private profit before public safety. RMT will continue the fight to keep the guards on our trains and to keep the train safe.”
The Paddington train crash occurred on 5 October 1999 at Ladbroke Grove in London. It remains the worst rail accident on the Great Western Main Line causing 31 fatalities and injuring 520 passengers.
The aftermath of the incident led to the creation in 2003 of the RSSB and, two years later, the RAIB in addition to the Railway Inspectorate.
The two drivers that Helen has referred to in her message are:
BRIAN COOPER, 52, the driver of the Great Western InterCity train, a father of three from Hayes, Middlesex
MICHAEL HODDER, 31, the Thames train driver, a father of two from Reading, Berkshire