HS2

05.05.16

RAIB demands West Coast Railway safety review after Wootton Bassett SPAD

West Coast Railway Company (WCRC) needs to implement major safety reviews after a signal passed at danger (SPAD) last year, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has found in a new report.

In February this year, the ORR banned the West Coast Railway Company (WCRC) from running services on the mainline railway due to continued safety concerns. However, this prohibition notice was lifted in late March.

The RAIB had previously found that the incident, which took place on 7 March 2015, occurred after the crew of the vintage steam train isolated the automatic warning system (AWS) in order to bypass a brake demand.

The new report found that the driver, who had over 50 years of railway experience, was also not able to slow the train in time because he was distracted by a steam leak within the cab and had to drive with his head out of the window, as well as experiencing a high workload, and missed the first signal.

The RAIB said that WCRC needs to review the arrangements by which drivers acquire and retain route knowledge and by which on train data recorders are maintained, as well as commissioning an independent review of its safety culture.

The RAIB report says that the importance of never interfering with safety systems such as AWS and the train protection and warning system (TPWS) “cannot be overstated”.

Interfering with safety systems was a factor in the 1997 Southall accident in which seven people were killed.

Network Rail and the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) were also targeted in the report.

It has been recommended that Network Rail carry out a review of how the design and implementation of emergency and temporary speed restrictions is managed by the Swindon Maintenance Delivery Unit, while the RSSB should carry out a review of the risks associated with overrun on Network Rail properties.

RTM contacted WCRC and Network Rail for a comment but they did not respond at the time of publication.

6 May UPDATE

A Network Rail spokesperson said: "We take safety incidents such as this extremely seriously and have worked alongside the Rail Accident Investigation Branch to produce the comprehensive report into what happened. We will consider how best to implement RAIB's recommendation in our procedures."

(Image c. Network Rail)

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