Railway safety and crime


RAIB to investigate Cambrian line ERTMS failure

The RAIB has launched an investigation into the loss of speed restriction data to trains during an incident on 20 October on the Cambrian coast line.

A driver travelling on the line in North Wales reported that longstanding temporary speed restrictions were not indicated on their in-cab display.

The temporary speed restrictions were required on the approach to level crossings so that people crossing the line had sufficient warning of an approaching train.

In 2011 the Cambrian lines were equipped with a pilot installation of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), which removes the requirement for signals along the track by transmitting data directly to the train.

Movement authorities and information such as temporary and permanent speed restrictions are displayed to the driver on a screen.

Signalling staff at the Machynlleth control centre investigated this report and became aware that the same failure applied to several trains under their control.

A subsequent investigation revealed that the signalling system had stopped transmitting temporary speed restriction data after a routine shutdown at around 23:10hrs the previous night.

But there was no indication of an abnormal conditioning, and signalling control centre displays showed the restrictions as being applied correctly.

To date the signalling system supplier has not identified the cause of the failure, so the RAIB has decided to undertake an independent investigation.

The organisation claims that there is a possibility that had suitable data been downloaded from the signalling system before it was restarted during the correction of the failure, it may have assisted in establishing the cause.

In its investigation, RAIB aims to consider the geographic extent of the failure and the effect it had on the safety of railway operations, why trains were permitted to operate without information about temporary speed restrictions, and the practices for gathering data needed for investigations before restoring computer based signalling systems.

At the conclusion of the investigation, RAIB will publish its findings and any recommendations to its website.

Have you got a story to tell? Would you like to become an RTM columnist? If so, click here


John Grant   23/02/2018 at 12:43

Clearly appallingly bad software design; it's not hard to make systems fail-safe. There are some who say we should stop talking about "bugs" and call them "errors". And it's time the description "software engineering" stopped being applied to hacking.

Lutz   25/02/2018 at 14:07

@John Grant Do you have any direct evidence to support your view point?

GW   26/02/2018 at 10:16

New technology, new dangers.

Mmlred   27/02/2018 at 09:36

Call me a luddite, but this wouldn't happen if they just had speed signposts! Sometimes I get the feeling we're overcomplicating things. In-cab signalling is one thing, but removing visual cues for speed limits is making a problem out of nothing. Yes, it must be a pain in the behind to have to go out and install TSR signs, but at least they're not going to be misinterpreted unless some joker comes along with a hacksaw!

Add your comment


rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Tram passengers demand better value for money from services

21/03/2018Tram passengers demand better value for money from services

  Satisfaction with value for money for tram passengers has dropped slightly, the latest Tram Passenger Survey has revealed. Fare-payi... more >
West of England to get £9.45bn economic boost from new rail partnership plan

21/03/2018West of England to get £9.45bn economic boost from new rail partnership plan

Rail companies across the west of England have set out a long-term plan for the region’s railway, which will boost the economy by £9.45... more >
First Virgin Azuma trains arrive in UK after two-month journey from Japan

21/03/2018First Virgin Azuma trains arrive in UK after two-month journey from Japan

Two brand new Hitachi trains completed their two month journey from Japan yesterday, arriving at Teesport, Middlesborough. The two five-car trai... more >

editor's comment

23/01/2018Out with the old...

Despite a few disappointing policy announcements, especially for the electrification aficionados amongst us, 2017 was, like Darren Caplan writes on page 20, a year generally marked by positive news for the rail industry. We polished off the iconic Ordsall Chord (p32), hit some solid milestones on Thameslink (p40), progressed on ambitious rolling stock orders (p16), and finally started moving forward on HS2 (p14) ‒ paving the way for a New Ye... read more >

last word

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

Encouraging youngsters to be safe on the railway

This summer, Arriva Group's CrossCountry and the Scout Association joined to launch a new partnership to promote rail safety among young people. Chris Leech MBE, business community manager at the... more > more last word articles >

'the sleepers' daily blog

How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

20/03/2018How biometrics can help improve health and safety measures on railway construction projects

In this article biometric identity, time and attendance specialists Donseed look at how biometric technology is already starting to enhance health and safety measures on railway construction projects. Advances in technology are starting to transform the way in which the rail network in the UK is managed, operated and maintained. There is ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >


Smart Ticketing: The way ahead

13/03/2018Smart Ticketing: The way ahead

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), runs through the nationwide progress in rolling out ... more >
A benchmark year for HS2

13/03/2018A benchmark year for HS2

Jim Crawford, managing director of Phase 1 at HS2 Ltd, discusses the many critical activities set to take place this year as the mammoth high-spe... more >
The North has a plan

13/03/2018The North has a plan

There has always been an incredible thirst for change in the north. Now, there is finally a plan robust and forward-thinking enough to make it ha... more >
EWR: Getting it right

13/03/2018EWR: Getting it right

Peter Austin, delivery director at East West Rail Company (EWRco), argues that completing the link between Oxford and Cambridge as quickly as pos... more >

rail industry focus

  • 08/12/2017A game changer for Midland Metro

    The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) updates RTM’s Luana Salles on the latest projects taking place across the growing Midland Metro...
  • 09/11/2017Testing tomorrow's technology today

    David Brazier, site manager and area sales manager for the UK & Ireland at OMICRON electronics, tells RTM’s Luana Salles about the major...
  • 09/11/2017What next for safety?

    As rail businesses edge towards their target of zero injuries, improving safety performance can plateau. Amey’s sector director for rail, Lee...
View all News


Transforming travel in the north west

06/02/2018Transforming travel in the north west

RTM’s Josh Mines talks to Robin Davis, head of new trains at TransPennine Express (TPE), about the huge rolling stock change journey the co... more >