Railway safety and crime

18.12.18

Workers who narrowly avoided death had no one in charge and ‘ineffective’ safety arrangements

“Ineffective” safety arrangements and a number of unofficial working practices contributed to a group of track workers narrowly avoiding being hit by a train, an RAIB investigation has found.

A train service travelling towards London Euston on 11 March narrowly missed the group of track workers whilst they were placing trolleys on the track alongside South Hampstead station.

Nearby colleagues shouted a warning to the group, and the workers managed to remove the trolleys and get clear just two seconds before the train passed after the driver had applied the brakes.

The RAIB reported that one member of the group received a minor injury and many were distressed, and launched an investigation into the incident.

It found that the work group did not have anyone designated as the ‘person in charge’ who has the sufficient knowledge and competence to manage all the risks associated with the work, including the danger of moving trains.

The RAIB reported that the work group were using a number of unofficial working practices and that established safety arrangements were “ineffective.”

The incident occurred because the track workers had placed the trolleys on the wrong line that was still open to trains instead of the intended adjacent line that had been blocked, and the person asked to take charge of safety for the work group believed that the open fast lines were the blocked slow ones.

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.”

Following its report, the RAIB has made a number of recommendations to Network Rail, such as clarifying the responsibilities of the ‘person in charge,’ improving location information and signage at the access point at South Hampstead, and reviewing the changes from previous issues.

French said it was disappointing that the re-introduced ‘person in charge’ concept had been implemented with a “lack of clarity, and the result of this was confusion on site,” along with “disorientated staff.”

He added: “I am concerned that, despite much effort and many initiatives, we are not seeing the hoped-for improvements in safety for track workers.”

The full RAIB report can be read here.

Image - CCTV footage from the incident

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

rail technology magazine tv

more videos >

latest rail news

Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

13/06/2019Dawlish railway may be ‘moved out to sea’ to protect it from storms under new proposals

The storm-battered Dawlish rail line could be “moved out to sea” and away from the “hazard” of the cliffs under new plans... more >
TfL awards contract for new DLR fleet to replace 30-year-old trains

12/06/2019TfL awards contract for new DLR fleet to replace 30-year-old trains

TfL has awarded a contract for 43 new trains to replace the oldest rolling stock on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), with the first scheduled t... more >
Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... 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

Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

05/06/2019Apprentice to Co-leading the Rail Sector Deal

In a series of Q&A’s with key speakers on the run up to TransCityRail Midlands, we caught up with TransCityRail panellist and Amey’s commercial account director, Anna Delvecchio, for her insight into what the Rail Sector Deal means for the rail industry and its supply chain. Anna started her career as an apprentice at the age o... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

comment

Hitachi trains for Happy trains

10/06/2019Hitachi trains for Happy trains

ScotRail project manager Kirsty Devlin discusses the withdrawal of Class 365s, to be replaced with the brand-new Class 385 fleet. While Scot... more >
Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

10/06/2019Malcolm Holmes on new stations for the Black Country

Malcolm Holmes, executive director of the West Midlands Rail Executive, described the new stations set to be built for the Black Country region o... more >
The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

10/06/2019The skills bottleneck: Dealing with growing apprenticeship demand

Richard Turner, head of apprenticeships at Network Rail, details the reasons for growing apprenticeship demand in the rail sector over the coming... more >
A train journey on the Midland Main Line 15 years from now…

10/06/2019A train journey on the Midland Main Line 15 years from now…

Chris Hobson, director of policy and external affairs at the East Midlands Chamber, talks in detail about what travelling through the region will... more >

rail industry focus

View all News

interviews

Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

08/05/2019Advancing the rail industry with management degree apprenticeships

In answering the pressing questions of how current and future generations of managers can provide solutions to high-profile infrastructure projec... more >