Railway safety and crime

10.01.19

Investigation launched after track worker forced to dodge train with two seconds to spare

An investigation has been launched after a track worker removing cables from a rail line was forced to dodge a train less than two seconds before the vehicle passed him at 51mph.

According to the RAIB, the employee was removing cables which were temporarily attached to a rail line near Gatwick Airport station on 2 December.

At around 23:25, the worker was forced to move out of the way of an approaching passenger train and managed to avoid it by less than two seconds.

While the man did not suffer any injuries, the RAIB has launched an investigation into the incident to try and establish the cause and any lessons that can be learned from it.

The report will establish the sequence of events and will consider factors influencing the actions of the track worker and the other staff involved in the work, as well as any relevant rules and procedures applicable to the planning, acceptance, and implementation of safe systems of work.

This near-miss follows several similar incidents in the last month, such as two track workers on 12 December who had to “jump out of the way” of an approaching East Midlands train travelling over 100mph, with a preliminary incident launched into that incident as well.

Last month, commenting on another RAIB investigation after a train travelling towards London Euston narrowly missed a group of track workers, chief inspector of rail accidents Simon French said: “There have been too many near misses, such as this one at South Hampstead, in which people have had to jump for their lives at the last moment.

“In the case of the near miss at Egmanton in October 2017, a multi-fatality accident was only avoided with two seconds to spare.

“The recent tragic death of a track worker on the Brighton Main Line at Stoats Nest Junction is a stark reminder of the risk of working on the railway tracks. Prior to this accident, it had been nearly five years since a track worker was struck and killed by a train.

“The number and type of near misses in recent years is hugely disappointing given the efforts made to address track worker safety during that time. Every near-miss, however caused, should be viewed as a failure of the system to deliver safety.”

Image - CCTV from Govia Thameslink Railway

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