Cullen report orders a rail training shake-up

The railway industry has been ordered to make major improvements to staff
training following publication of the report into the Paddington disaster.

Lord Cullen made nine recommendations on driver management and training in
his report on the public inquiry into the crash following harsh criticism of
Thames Trains.

Michael Hodder, driver of the Thames train involved in the disaster, had
only recently qualified when he went through a red signal leading to the
collision, which killed 31 people in October 1999.

Cullen said, "I conclude that the safety culture in regard to training
was slack and less than adequate and that there were significant failures in
communication within the organisation."

In his report, Cullen said Thames Trains should have done more to organise
management and training in a systematic manner. Managers responsible for driver
training taught classes in their own way, training material was not validated
and there were gaps in the training delivered He said in his report.

Cullen recommended Thames Trains ensures its drivers have monthly
face-to-face meetings with managers responsible for driving standards.

David Maitland, group HR director for Connex Transport, said his company
would be studying Cullen’s recommendations closely.

Maitland said, "We recognise that train drivers have a stressful job,
requiring a lot of decision-making and working on their own. Driver training is
crucial to the railways. It is a key part of the system."

A Thames Trains spokesperson said, "We were aware that there were
improvements we wanted to make to training in 1999 when the accident happened.

"We have implemented a wide range of improvements in driver training,
recruitment and development in the past two years. That process is ongoing. We
accept all the recommendations in the report."

By Katie Hawkins

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