Railway safety and crime

22.05.18

Trenos crossing death may have been avoidable, RAIB finds

Out of date information on a signaller’s screen and fatigue may have contributed to a death at a level crossing in South Wales, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has found.

On 1 June 2017, a pedestrian was fatally injured when they were struck by a train at Trenos footpath crossing near Llanharan, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

The pedestrian had been observed walking slowly over the crossing by a train driver around 20 minutes before the accident.

The driver had stopped at the crossing and the train guard had a short conversation with the pedestrian. Because he was concerned about the pedestrian’s state of mind he asked the driver to contact the signaller by radio, which was done.

A signaller in Cardiff answered the radio call and relayed the message to a signaller at Port Talbot, who was responsible for the Trenos area.

The signaller was asked to stop trains at signals before the crossing and instruct drivers to proceed with caution.

Out of date and misleading information led to the Port Talbot signaller putting the signals to red on either side of a closed crossing about 0.75 miles from Trenos crossing.

Shortly afterwards, these signals were returned to green, meaning that the driver of the train involved in the accident was not cautioned and so the train approach the crossing at normal speed.

RAIB has stated that the accident occurred as a result of the pedestrian walking onto the crossing and into the path of an approaching train, but that cautioning the train in accordance with railway rules may have meant that it could have been avoided.

It also found that the decision making of the Port Talbot signaller may have been influenced by fatigue.

As a result of its investigation, RAIB has made on recommendation which related to the accuracy of signallers’ displays.

In addition, it identified three learning points relating to the responsibility of staff to report fatigue to their managers to ensure sufficient sleep time before the start of a shift, along with the provision of, and familiarity with, up to date reference diagrams needed by signallers.

The third learning point related to the importance of signallers recording details about the cautioning of trains.

 

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