Train drivers union ASLEF is alarmed that the Paddington signal which was implicated in the 1999 crash in which 31 people died is to be recommissioned.

The signal – SN109 – has been out of commission since the accident.

Signal 109 was a bi-directional signal known to be difficult to see. Before the crash other drivers had complained about the light, which had been passed at red on eight occasions in the previous seven years.

ASLEF said on 26 January 2006 that Network Rail is believed to be on the point of re-commissioning the signal.

The union's general secretary Keith Norman said: "I understand that train companies have been consulted, but there has been no contact with the union on the issue.

"It strikes me as being totally irresponsible not to seek, and pay attention to, the views of our drivers who will be taking trains along this stretch of line."

Network Rail is, according to rail sources, to increase speeds up to those prior to the crash in a few weeks time.

"We are not satisfied that the signal is in a condition to be re-introduced into service," said Mr Norman. "We regret also that no announcement has been made by Network Rail.

"It is inexplicable to us that neither the drivers nor those people representing the victims of the crash have been advised or consulted about its intentions.

"To leave safety to the rail companies – after what happened five years ago – seems massively irresponsible and insensitive.

"It is ridiculous that we have to find out by informal sources and that Network Rail is trying to sneak this recommissioning in through the back door."