Network Rail regulation and performance

14.02.19

RAIB warns Network Rail over safety recommendations following another near miss

The RAIB has written to Network Rail again following an investigation into an incident where two workers walking along the track on the East Coast Main Line were narrowly missed by a train after an undetected planning mistake.

The near miss occurred on 20 January when a train operated by Northern Rail encountered the two workers along the Browney Curve in County Durham.

The workers had just set up a work site and were walking with their equipment along the track, but due to an earlier planning mistake where that part of the railway had not been closed off and went undetected, trains were still running on the same line.

Following a preliminary investigation into the incident’s potential for new learnings, the RAIB has written to Network Rail reminding it of the importance of addressing the safety concerns outlined following a near miss at Camden Junction South on 28 February 2017.

Following the previous incident, the RAIB recommended that Network Rail investigate ways to improve the layout and format of notices, publishing the safety arrangements for track workers with a specific focus on the greater use of clear diagrams to present information.

The RAIB reiterated the learnings to Network Rail from the near-miss at Camden in July 2018. The investigation was into another near-miss with track workers west of Dundee which “again rose as a result of people not realising” that their work location and area of track with protection were not the same.

The railway safety board said the incident at Browney Curve near miss should serve as a timely reminder of the importance of addressing this recommendation quickly, with implementation reportedly still in progress.

In its letter, the RAIB also observed that it would help if new planning tools under development by Network Rail could undertake automatic checks on whether work sites are actually located within the protection provided for the work.

A high volume of life-threatening near misses has also prompted the RAIB to undertake a class investigation into the incidents looking at how the safety systems on the railway are at times entirely reliant on the decisions of frontline track workers.

Image credit - violettenlandungoy

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