London

Clapham Junction rail crash 1988: Events remember the dead

Clapham rail disaster
Image caption Faulty wiring and an incorrect signal caused the 1988 crash at Clapham Junction

Wreaths have been laid and a minute's silence held to remember the 35 people killed in a train crash in south London 30 years ago.

At 08:13 on 12 December 1988 faulty wiring and signalling caused three trains to collide in Clapham.

Survivors and families paid their respects to the dead and almost 500 injured people at a church service.

London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton said she remembered the "tragic" event "like it was yesterday".

Bosses from the emergency services and rail industry representatives also attended memorial events.

A 250-page report on the findings of the accident inquiry, chaired by Anthony Hidden QC, found faulty wiring had caused an incorrect signal to be displayed to a train driver, who was driving into a blind bend and had no chance to stop.

His train, which had come from Poole, ploughed head-on into the back of a stationary train, from Basingstoke.

The Poole train then veered and hit an empty oncoming train.

Image caption It took hours for firefighters and medics to free trapped people and recover bodies

About 70 people suffered horrific injuries as the front section of the moving train was ripped open and completely destroyed.

John Bowis, who was the MP for Battersea at the time, said he drove to the "awful scene of carnage" as soon as he heard the news.

"It was something you never forget," he said.

Mr Bowis said the boys from nearby Emanuel School were "impressive" in the way they came to help the injured, but added: "I'm very conscious that some very young eyes and minds were confronted with awful things."

Image caption Marilyn Robinson was on her way from Basingstoke to a course in London when her train was struck

Marilyn Robinson, 73, escaped the wreckage of the Basingstoke train with relatively minor injuries.

After hugging Ms Cotton at the wreath-laying event in Spencer Park, Battersea, Ms Robinson said: "When these things happen to you, you have a choice. You can be a victim or you can be a survivor.

"I chose to be a survivor."

Ms Robinson went on to join Disaster Action to help other people affected by tragedies like the one she experienced.

Christmas cards

Ms Cotton had only recently finished training as a firefighter when she was called to attend the "terrible and tragic" crash site.

"There were Christmas cards strewn everywhere as people must have been writing their cards on the train," she said.

"I still remember it like it was yesterday."

Image caption The Met's Cressida Dick, London mayor Sadiq Khan and LFB's Dany Cotton each laid a wreath at a memorial in Spencer Park, Battersea

At 11:00 on Wednesday, Ms Cotton joined survivors and families as well as the London mayor Sadiq Khan, the Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, and rail industry representatives to lay wreaths and hold a minute's silence at a memorial to victims in Spencer Park, Battersea, followed by a service at St Mark's church.

The train drivers' union Aslef held a separate wreath-laying event and two-minute silence at the Spencer Park memorial at 08:13, to mark the exact moment the crash happened.

Although many of the Hidden report's 93 recommendations were acted on, a rail accident report last month found lessons learned in the disaster were being "forgotten".

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