35 years on: Rail industry partners hold annual memorial service to remember those who sadly lost their lives in the 1988 Clapham rail crash: Wreath laying at Clapham memorial

Tuesday 12 Dec 2023

35 years on: Rail industry partners hold annual memorial service to remember those who sadly lost their lives in the 1988 Clapham rail crash

Region & Route:
| Southern: Wessex

Rail industry partners came together today (Tuesday 12 December) to lay wreaths and hold a two minute's silence to remember the 35 people who lost their lives in a train crash in south west London 35 years ago.

On 12 December 1988 at 08.10, faulty wiring in the signalling system caused three trains to collide on the approach to Clapham Junction station.

Today (12 December), Network Rail joined rail industry partners including South Western Railway (SWR) and ASLEF* at the annual service held at the Spencer Park memorial site which was attended by relatives who lost loved ones in the Clapham rail crash.

Other events that are taking place to mark the 35th anniversary include a ‘lessons learnt’ talk, hosted by Network Rail and Siemens Mobility, where colleagues will be sharing technical briefings and interactive sessions at Network Rail’s Wessex Delivery Unit (WDU) in Clapham as well as 9 other locations across the United Kingdom.

Representatives from Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) and Rail Safety and Standards Boards at the WDU will also be in attendance to discuss why the Clapham rail crash had such a big impact on the industry, how it happened, what the key learning was and what is being done to prevent incidents like this happening in future.

In spring 2024, there will also be a series of signalling events around the region to openly discuss the learning points from all relevant incidents, to ensure we minimise the possibility of future ones.

Matt Pocock, Network Rail’s Wessex route director, said: “Today is a really important day for the rail industry across the country as we come together to remember those who sadly lost their lives in the Clapham rail crash, 35 years ago.

“The railway serves millions of customers every year and our priority is to always keep customers moving and get them to where they need to be safely.

“Days like today are important for us to continue having open discussions to reflect on what lessons we have learnt as an industry and how we can continue moving forward to prioritise customer and colleague safety and prevent incidents like this ever happening again.

“Our thoughts are forever with the families who lost loved ones as well as the survivors and those who were injured during the horrific incident that took place 35 years ago.”

Claire Mann, South Western Railway’s managing director, commented: “We’re very grateful to our colleagues for organising today’s commemoration and to those from the wider railway family who came together in remembrance.

“Today is a day to remember the 35 people who tragically lost their lives, to think about their families, and to recognise the efforts of all those who played a part in the rescue and recovery operation on Monday 12 December 1988.”

Rob Morris, Siemens Mobility’s joint CEO and managing director of rail infrastructure and software UKI, said: “It is heart-warming to know there is such a diverse representation, with individuals ranging from apprentices to CEOs, standing united in our pursuit for zero harm. Safety is not a rhetoric for us; it is the foundation upon which our operations are built, and these industry events are proof of that.”

Andy Lewis, deputy chief inspector, RAIB said: “The Clapham accident was a tragedy. Events like today’s help us remember the dreadful impact of this accident and those lost, but also the considerable amount of safety learning and change that came as a result. The RAIB is pleased to be able to participate today so that the railway continues to learn the lessons of the past.”

Notes to Editors

*Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Fireman

Photo credits: South Western Railway (SWR)

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