The Health and Safety Executive’s report on the rail accident at Winsford, Cheshire earlier this year has raised serious doubts about the safety of Class 142 Pacer trains.
The HSE said it was `fortunate’ that no passengers were on board at the time of the crash, which saw a high-speed Virgin train collide with two Pacer carriages.
The report attributed the crash to driver error but the HSE has asked the Health and Safety Laboratory, WS Atkins and Halcrow Transmark to look into the safety of the 142 Pacer `as a matter of urgent priority’.
Class 142 Pacers were introduced in 1985 as a low-cost alternative to traditional trains. They are a bus-train hybrid built by British Rail Engineering and Leyland.
The body of the vehicle is attached to the underframe by several wire straps. These snapped during the Winsford collision and allowed the body to slide along the undercarriage.
* The HSE is to introduce charging for its work on safety cases in the rail, offshore and gas transportation industries.
The level of charges has yet to be decided despite the deadline for their introduction being the end of next week.