When I received a phone call to tell me of the Ufton Nervet train crash I experienced that moment all MPs dread. There had been a disaster in my constituency.
I cancelled my engagements and went to the scene to see if I could help. What I saw is scarred on my memory.
A fast travelling express train had hit a car on the level crossing, had derailed, and had ploughed into the ballast by the side of the track. The sheer raw power of the heavy train lay expended, the metal torn and damaged and the windows broken. People had been killed and injured through the violence of the crash.
I have ever since wanted important improvements in train safety. Today I am glad to report that Network Rail have said they plan to replace the crossing with a bridge. This will prevent anyone else by accident or design driving or delaying their vehicle on the crossing when a train is approaching. That would be good news indeed.
I have also called for seat belts for express trains. We need to expand capacity so everyone has a booked seat, as on an aircraft or inter city coach. Restraining people in a crash could save lives, as we accept on planes and in motor vehicles.
I also want railway companies to provide stowage for heavy luggage. In sudden deceleration we need to avoid heavy suitcases, pushchairs and other stowed items from flying loose around the carriage. Luggage is properly stowed on planes, and placed in boots and luggage compartments in motor vehicles. We need the same on long distance fast trains.