Remembering the Marchioness tragedy

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Today is the 25th anniversary of the Marchioness disaster, a truly terrible day in the history of our relationship with the River Thames.

I attended a service this afternoon at Southwark Cathedral, which gave a chance for quiet reflection on the tragedy.

It was good to spend time talking to survivors and the families of victims, who I have known and campaigned with for many years.

The legacy of this appalling tragedy, which devastated so many families, has been a much safer River Thames and significant reforms to the coroners service. Those achievements only came about thanks to the bravery of the survivors and relatives, combined with the determination we all felt to keep campaigning until justice had been secured.

That legacy includes the introduction of the RNLI’s lifeboat service on the River Thames which alone has rescued 3,481 people and saved 466 lives since 2001. In addition, we’ve seen new river safety laws, improved training for the emergency services, link chains along the inner walls of the river bank to help people to escape the water and tough rules on alcohol and noise distraction.

We must never become complacent and forget the potential dangers of being on the Thames. However, the higher standards of safety, policing and rescue services give every reason to be confident that London’s economy can benefit from the greater use of the river for trade, commuting and tourism that we all want to see.