Railway safety and crime

10.07.17

RAIB to investigate as child almost falls through floor of moving train

A mother and her child narrowly avoided falling through the open floor a toilet compartment on a South Devon Railway (SDR) train, prompting an investigation by the RAIB.

In a statement today, the RAIB said it was investigating the incident after the passenger and her child entered the lavatory onboard the SDR rolling stock to find the floor was wide open, exposing the carriage wheels below.

Fortunately, the mother was quick to catch hold of her child before he fell. The child suffered minor bruising and both were shocked but relatively unscathed.

The RAIB noted that the train running between Totnes Riverside and Buckfastleigh on 22 June was an ex-British Railways Mark 1 Open Second travelling at around 20mph. It had been put back into service after repairs to its braking system – which required the lavatory floor to be dismantled.

The investigation will look into the events leading up to the incident, the adequacy and suitability of the measures taken to secure the door and the railway’s safety management system.

In a statement, SDR said that it took the incident “very seriously” and accepted that the mistake could have resulted in serious injury to the passenger and her son.

“We regret that this incident took place and wish to apologise to the lady and family involved for the trauma which they suffered. The coach was taken out of service and quarantined pending the different investigations by the RAIB, ORR and SDR,” a spokesperson said.

“On the day in question, something clearly went wrong with our safety control and hazard monitoring systems as evidenced by the incident having taken place – it simply should not have happened.”

The spokesperson added that it was running its own internal inquiry: “We are committed to putting safety at the heart of every area of our operations and -- whilst this was an isolated incident without any previous precedent – there can be no room for complacency where railway and passenger safety is concerned.”

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