The Brighton-Bedford line will soon be one of the safest rail routes in the country.

It is set to be the first end-to-end rail route in the country to have an advanced safety system which prevents trains going through red signals.

It will make the Thameslink route, which runs from the Sussex Coast through the City of London to St Albans and Bedford, one of the safest in Britain. The firm also hopes it will help in its bid to take over routes currently run by Connex.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott told the House of Commons the line would be the first to be fitted completely with the Train Protection Warning System. All Thameslink trains are currently fitted with the system and the trackside equipment to make the system operative is currently being installed.

The Train Protection Warning System is an automatic speed reduction mechanism which clicks in if a driver approaches a red light or junction too fast. It is effective for trains travelling up to 70mph. The maximum speed on the Brighton-Bedford and London Victoria line is currently 90mph.

It is good news for the Crawley-based company Redifon Mel, which is the main supplier of the system. The company currently employs 300 people and is expected to expand its operations.

The system is expected to prevent 80 per cent of "passed at danger" incidents. It would have prevented the Paddington rail crash in October and the incident at Lewes a fortnight afterwards when two trains collided outside Lewes station. In both cases trains went through red signals.

Regular commuter and Hove Labour MP Ivor Caplin welcomed the safety improvements. He said: "This is good news for one of the busiest lines in the country."

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.