Network Rail regulation and performance

12.04.19

Cornwall train with 14 passengers onboard derailed after track jumped to wrong position, RAIB finds

A train with 14 passengers on board derailed at a Cornish station after the points which allow trains to switch between tracks jumped into the wrong position, the RAIB has found.

The passenger train was left straddling between two lines as it entered Penryn station on 28 January. Whilst no-one was hurt, the RAIB has published a safety report with a number of important safety messages.

The train, travelling between Falmouth and Truro in Cornwall, was travelling at 16mph – over the maximum speed of 15mph – when authorised to pass a signal at danger, when it passed over a set of facing points.

The line is designed with loop points to serve trains operating in both directions, and on 28 January the remote signaller was unable to clear the signal for the line, warning the driver to pass the signal at ‘danger’.

The points were not in the correct position and the leading wheels of the train passed either side of the switch rails, leading to immediate derailment.

Figure 3

The 14 passengers on board were not hurt and were able to leave the train onto the station platform with only minor damage caused to the rack.

Network Rail carried out a technical investigation into the accident and found that the points had moved from the normal position un-commanded, but no evidence of a fault or wrong side failure was found.

The point motor and cables have been replaced and as a precautionary measure. Various relays and contacts at Truro signal box have also been replaced.

The RAIB said the derailment acts as a reminder to signallers that should a colour light fail to clear, the fact that it is possible to reverse the associated lever should never be interpreted as proof that all points in the route ahead are correctly set and locked.

It reminded drivers that 15mph is the maximum speed permitted when authorised to pass a signal at danger, and also said that signallers need to ensure that a route is correctly set before giving a train permission to pass over it when degraded working arrangements are in operation.

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