Railway safety and crime

26.09.19

A track worker narrowly escapes train near Gatwick Airport

A track worker had a lucky escape as he had a near-miss with an oncoming train between Horley and Gatwick Airport stations between Surrey and West Sussex on December 2 2018.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), set up to prevent future rail accidents, has today released the report and CCTV footage of 23:24, when the worker, a controller of site safety (COSS) was working on electrical isolation of conductor rails and managed to dodge the train moments before it would have struck.

BAM Nuttall planners didn’t have the information that would have told exactly where the work was being carried out on the track. This was due to the isolation planning process by The Network Rai.

According to RAIB, the people responsible for the planning didn’t have enough experience to provide a system of work which would have protected the worker from all train movements close to the location of the task.

COSS were aware of the inadequate planned system in place but chose to go ahead with the task without alternative safety measures.

The unsafe method of working, caused by Network Rail not providing information to external planners, was not questioned by a second track worker before the incident.

Following the incident, the RAIB has called for Network Rail to make amendments to the isolation planning process ensuring that all workers receive the relevant information in order to work safely.

BAM Nuttall have also been advised to not plan work without sufficient information and appropriate protection measures.

Four learning points have been taken from the near-miss to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, including challenging unsafe work practices, safe systems of work, seeking additional information and the use of train horns,

Simon French, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents said:

“Once again, the RAIB has to report on an alarming near-miss between a train and a track worker. We have seen far too many of these incidents in recent years, and the recent tragic accidents at Stoats Nest Junction, just a few miles from Gatwick, and at Margam, which is still under investigation, are a stark reminder of how terrible the consequences of mixing trains and people can be.”

“When engineering work takes place on and around lines electrified on the conductor rail system, it is important that the conductor rails are isolated and earthed, to protect everyone from electrical hazards.”

 

Image from forward facing CCTV camera on approaching train (courtesy of Govia Thameslink Railway)

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