Technology to prevent rail accidents should be implemented

October 15, 1999

Accidents that should never have happened

Recommendations to introduce automatic train control were made 71 years ago and yet we are still waiting for it to be implemented, writes Professor Robert Cocks from the University of Hong Kong in this week's BMJ. Commenting on last week's rail crash in Ladbroke Grove, London, Professor Cocks compares the incident to a similar accident which took place in Gloucestershire in 1928. He notes that the official inquiry called for the "eventual" installation of automatic train control, which could have stopped the train.

Cocks writes that the "recent disaster belongs to the first third of the twentieth century, not in the last year of it" and that "we have ..(a).. duty to report on behalf of the public the preventable injuries caused by disasters and to 'call time' when the lessons of the past are being ignored."

Professor Robert Cocks, Accident and Emergency Medicine Academic Unit, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong Email:


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