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view document PDF (7.6Mb download)Investigation into the Clapham Junction Railway Accident

Document Summary

The 'Hidden Report' into the causes of the collision south of Clapham Junction on December 12 1988, in which 35 people died. The primary cause of the crash was incorrect wiring work during a stage of the Waterloo Area Resignalling Scheme (WARS); this work left a redundant wire connected at one end, and bare at the other. The wire came into contact with a relay, causing a signal to display a 'wrong side' green aspect regardless of the presence of a train on the track circuit.

The report made a number of recommendations, which altered the way the railway carries out its business. Working hours for safety-critical staff were subjected to restrictions, to ensure fatigue could not cause such an accident again, and signalling testing & commissioning procedures were changed.

This document was published on 27th September 1989 by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

It was written by Anthony Hidden (QC).


This item is linked to the Accident at Clapham Junction on 12th December 1988


The original document format was Paper, and comprised 250 pages.

This document was kindly sourced from Library Service and is in our Accident inquiry documents collection. It was added to the Archive on 8th February 2005.

Copyright Information

This document is Crown Copyright, and is subject to the terms governing the reproduction of crown copyright material. Depending on the status and age of the original document, you may need an OPSI click-use license if you wish to reproduce this material, and other restrictions may apply. Please see this explanation for further details.

"At 8:10 a.m. on the morning of Monday, 12 December 1988, a crowded commuter train ran head-on into the rear of another which was stationary in a cutting just south of Clapham Junction station. After that impact the first train veered to its right and struck a third oncoming train. As a result of the accident 35 people died and nearly 500 were injured, 69 of them seriously. The names of those who died are set out at Appendix A. They were all travelling in the front two coaches of the first train.

On the following morning your predecessor as Secretary of State for Transport invited me to hold a formal Investigation into the causes and all the circumstances attending the accident under section 7 of the Regulation of Railways Act 1871.

The purpose of this Investigation was not to look for one simple, single solution to account for the tragedy but to seek to establish both the immediate and the underlying causes of the accident and all the circumstances attending it. That target sought to ensure that every conceivable lesson of the tragedy was learned and that the risk of such an accident happening again was reduced as near to zero as was humanly possible. That was and is the aim of this Investigation. "

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