Train that hit doctor was able to carry just a third of passengers

A member of the staff from the train on which a trainee doctor was seriously injured has confirmed that the train can take just over 100 passengers and crew, not the 140 passengers it stated in an internal letter.

These letters were leaked last night to a number of media outlets, including SONAR and the BBC, which ran coverage of the story earlier today. The train was carrying approximately 140 people on 19 November when it collided with the train carrying the doctor.

The GP was given oxygen to prevent his dying before emergency services could help him, and the Guardian has heard from other passengers who were on the train that he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dr June Lee-Price, who was operating the train, has confirmed to the Guardian that there are only 93 of the 140 seats on the train that have been described in the leaked email.

The leaked internal memo said that the trainee doctor was injured and the train “will not operate” while the investigation into the accident continues.

The train on which the trainee doctor was injured during a collision with the train carrying the doctor at 11.30am on 19 November. Photograph: BBC/PA

The IPCC is looking into the claims that there was a breakdown in communications between the two trains, which operated “confidently” before the collision.

Sharon Dowsett, a spokesperson for the GTR Partnership, which runs the GTR train service, said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on our investigation at this time. Our thoughts are with all those involved at this time.”

Members of staff in the UP Express staff and general train crews union are said to be circulating emails suggesting that UP Express was not informed that it could not carry the number of people listed in the leaked memo, as the pair were “completely insulated” from the questioning.

The Independent Transport Safety and Insurance Authority issued an official “notifiable event” statement saying the GP was “alert and talking with his colleagues” when he was struck.

Maria Bilton, a member of the UP Express staff, told SONAR: “The UP Express are saying it can carry 150 passengers but they are now saying they can’t carry those numbers.

“It’s quite complex – they don’t even have the number of carriages they said they could, so they didn’t even run an alternative route.”

Last night a spokesperson for UP Express said that this was not a “new announcement”: “UP Express has always been aware that we could not run an extra 20 passengers or more on that timetable.

“We have now made it clear in the incoming letter that only those on the UP Express trains with the necessary credentials will have access to medical services on departure.

“We are confident that our staff will use this additional space with the appropriate prior arrangements in place.”

Robert Naylor, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, described the leak as “a disgrace” and said: “This incident shows there is an unacceptable attitude of a train operator and NHS trust towards the medical emergency at the scene of the collision.

“The anonymity of the trainee doctor working in the NHS has been exploited by news outlets and highlighted the sad fact that ambulance crews struggled to rescue him because of the size of the train.

“The arrogance is unacceptable and it makes me wonder whether the crash was an oversight by the operators and the emergency services, or that they deliberately misrepresented their treatment of the medical emergency.

“Our union is calling for a serious review of procedures on both an individual and a timetable level, to make sure that there is no repeat of this distressing event. A serious investigation into the events at Clapham Junction is now the only way to resolve the dispute between the train operator and NHS personnel at the time of the incident.

“This incompetent doctor was clearly a victim of a botched evacuation plan at the train crossing where up to 200 people were waiting for their three-carriage carriages.

“The union cannot accept that a grade three accident such as this on a busy stretch of the London Underground can be allowed to occur without a senior, senior inquiry being launched.

“Our very best wishes are with the young doctor and his family and our thoughts are with everyone at the train leaving the scene of this collision.”

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