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On Tuesday, 5 October 1999, two trains collided at Ladbroke Grove Junction. 31 people died as a result of the crash, including both drivers, and 258 were injured.
As the Cheltenham to Paddington Great Western service was travelling into Paddington, the Paddington to Bedwyn Thames Trains service was heading in the opposite direction. At 8.11am the two trains collided head on.
Emergency services personnel, including officers from both the Metropolitan Police and BTP, were on the scene within minutes.
Chief Inspector Brian Gosden, Officer-in-charge of BTP’s London control room, said at the time of the crash: "As soon as the news of the accident became public, we had staff ringing to volunteer to help. By the time the night turn came on we had every position staffed.
"People made tremendous efforts — they stayed at their posts and didn't take breaks. Even in the midst of this very major incident, the room maintained its air of quiet efficiency."
On 11 October, Her Majesty the Queen visited the scene of the crash. The Queen was clearly troubled by what she saw as she was shown around the accident scene by BTP Chief Constable David Williams. Her Majesty visited the area again later in the same week, to meet members of the emergency services involved in the rescue and recovery operation.
The rescue operation and subsequent searches lasted until 14 October, with rescue efforts severely hampered by the delicate state of some of the wreckage.
In a letter to Chief Constable Williams, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott expressed his thanks to the BTP for their efforts following the Paddington rail crash: "I am writing to express my gratitude and admiration for the action of your officers. Their prompt and professional response to this terrible accident was a credit to the Force, and I am sure their actions helped prevent further loss of life and injuries."