Latest Rail News

18.12.15

NR must review site safety after near-misses at Stockley Flyover

Network Rail has been told to review its management systems for safety on major construction sites as track workers were at “serious risk” of being hit by trains at Stockley Flyover last year. 

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has published its report into two unsafe events at Heathrow Tunnel Junction on 27 and 28 December 2014

During the first incident, 14 track workers walked along the open Down Airport line –mistakenly believing that train services had been stopped. 

RAIB’s investigation found that an “inappropriate system” was used to control access to the track, permitting trains to start operating when track workers would think services were still suspended. 

The independent investigator has recommended that Network Rail and its contractors need to ensure the management systems promote “sufficient direct observation of on-site activities” and workgroup questioning to ensure mandated safe systems of work are being correctly implemented throughout each shift. 

The RAIB does, however, acknowledge that Network Rail is making changes under the Planning and Delivering Safe Work programme that will result in the engineering supervisor role being undertaken by a ‘safe work leader’. 

In the second incident (28 December), two track workers were placing a small trolley on the Up Airport line when a train came out of a nearby tunnel at 45mph. The track workers moved clear of the line seconds before the train struck the trolley. There were no injuries and only minor damage. 

The workers, once again, believed the line was closed. RAIB said this was a consequence of being accustomed to working in a way that “differed from the mandated site safety system” and had become normal practice. 

Both incidents took place on a major civil engineering construction site at which a new viaduct and new railway line were being constructed over the Great Western main line near Heathrow Airport. This work formed part of Network Rail’s Crossrail (West) project.RAIB stated that the two incidents, and other safety shortcomings found, showed that site supervision processes had not identified “deviation from the mandated site safety system” and this had become normal practice. 

It has recommended that Network Rail should review the monitoring arrangements applying to engineering supervisors/safe work leaders managing engineering worksites. RAIB has suggested a further review should look into the issue of railway access control systems used on large construction sites.

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