WREATHS will be laid today at the site of a rail crash 30 years ago in which 35 people were killed - many from Hampshire.

Rail union leaders will mark the anniversary of the Clapham disaster with calls to ensure such accidents never happen again.

The accident involved three trains, including a crowded passenger train which crashed into the rear of another train that had stopped at a signal, just south of Clapham Junction railway station in London, leading to deaths and hundreds of injuries.

A recent report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) into an accident at London Waterloo station last year found parallels with the Clapham incident.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: "This warning from the RAIB about an eerily similar chain of events at Waterloo should be taken very seriously by the industry as a whole.

"As the RAIB points out the steady loss of experienced workers has been taking place since the break-up of the industry following privatisation 25 years ago.

"The fragmentation of the rail industry that started after Clapham has meant that there is an ever greater disconnect between contractors striving for ever greater profit while Network Rail, responsible for operating, maintaining and renewing rail infrastructure, is stretched to breaking point due to budgetary constraints."

Chris Sneddon of the drivers' union Aslef, said: "The accident as well as the lives that were lost and irrevocably altered, cast a shadow that lingers.

"The way we work, the way we view our work, the very fabric of the industry we serve was fundamentally changed for both workers and the passengers we carry because of lessons learned after the Clapham accident."

A Hampshire survivor's account of the disaster

In total, thirty five people lost their lives and 113 were injured in the crash.

Hampshire was home to 15 of the people killed in the crash.

One person to survive was Lee Middleton, a civil servant was onboard the Brockenhurst to Waterloo train.

He was in the front carriage as it slammed into the back of the stationery 7.18am from Basingstoke which had stopped near Clapham Junction station.

He said: “We were all getting thrown around the carriage like rag dolls. We tumbled around and around in circles.”


His first memory after the chaos was laying on the floor of the twisted carriage - a heavy metal bar pressing hard against his throat.

Lee, who was 39 at the time and a father of two children aged nine and 12, was pinned to the floor when part of the carriage ceiling fell on him.

“Quite honestly, I thought this is it. I am going to die.

“I just looked up at the sky. It was a nice sunny, dry day and the sky was clear blue.

"I heard crying and moaning. It was horrible. I thought it was curtains for me.

“In a perverse way the bar pinning me to the bottom of the carriage was good because it meant I didn't see anything.

"I'm grateful for that because it meant I haven't suffered nightmares.”

Firefighters arrived at the scene and battled to prise the metal from Lee's neck using a sledgehammer.

He was taken by ambulance to hospital with a broken collar bone and a badly broken leg.

Alison's memory lives on

It was her love of sailing that led to her catching the train that tragically ended her life.

Alison MacGregor, 32, worked as a trainee retail manager in London and would normally go back to the city on Sunday evening.


However the weather was so beautiful, the keen sailor decided to stay an extra night on the family's yacht after a trip to the Isle of Wight and return the next morning on the fated train.

But her memory lives on and she has given 80,000 disabled people the chance to sail on Southampton Water.

Her parents Jimmy and Muriel, who have since passed away, decided to donate compensation money they received from British Rail to build the specially equipped boat named the Alison MacGregor when they heard a plea for cash on the radio from the New Forest Rotary Club as they left the memorial service in Winchester Cathedral.

The charity Solent Dolphin launched its third Alison MacGregor vessel in 2013, on the 25th anniversary of the disaster.

It is based in Hythe Marina and takes wheelchair users, elderly people, disadvantaged youngsters and children with disabilities on free two hour trips to visit Southampton docks, the Itchen and the River Hamble.

Dr Charles Fay, general secretary of the charity, explained: “Her parents always said this is what Alison would have liked and we are proud to give so many people the chance to experience sailing.”