Either way, the two trains collided head on and devastation commenced. As twisted wreckage flew into the air and in every direction, a fireball ignited and flames shot across the carriages. People trapped within the crumpled cars had to fight for survival as the sudden impact combined with the searing heat of the fire left them with no choice but to scramble to safety as quickly as possible.
By now it was obvious that this was a huge incident, the head on collision killed both drivers instantly and it was clear that passengers were also amongst the dead. It would be several days before they would get a final death toll as they combed the charred wreckage for passengers. Eventually they would get a final list of 31 dead, with over 400 injured.
The questions that were now being asked as the wreckage was lifted off the tracks led to several high profile inquiries and some damning reports into the laxity of the companies involved in ensuring that passengers safety was adhered to. Thames Trains were fined £2 million for violations of health and safety, Network Rail (who looked after the tracks) were fined £4 million and the official inquiry led by Lord Cullen led to the founding of the Rail Accidents Investigation Branch.