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NR must update S&C training courses after derailment

Network Rail has been told to review and update its switches and crossings (S&C) training courses to ensure maintenance staff are sufficiently competent, after a bogie ran derailed for 121 metres before re-railing itself without the driver even noticing.

It happened at Washwood Heath West Junction in Birmingham on 23 March 2015, and was investigated by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB). One bogie of a wagon derailed as it crossed between lines at Washwood Heath, with the driver only becoming aware of the incident after the signaller noticed irregular indications on his display panel. When the signaller stopped the train, the driver found that the tenth wagon showed signs of having run derailed.

The train, comprising a loco and 24 container wagons, was travelling while negotiating a series of crossovers. Although no-one was injured, there was significant damage to track and signalling equipment.

The track where the wagon derailed was curved and contained a twist fault that Network Rail was unaware of at the time, despite specifying in its maintenance standard that a fault of such magnitude should be rectified within 36 hours.

During its investigation, RAIB found that the derailment could have been avoided entirely if the track twist had been measured after maintenance work took place on 7 March.

The report said: “This highlights the importance of staff who are responsible for certifying that track is safe for traffic after maintenance work confirming, by measurement, that the track geometry has not been adversely affected by the work.”

As well as making two recommendations to the wagon owners, RAIB told Network Rail to improve its training and briefing of maintenance staff to confirm there is “adequate coverage of two-levelling of S&C”.

“It should ensure that S&C maintenance staff who undertake maintenance of two-levelled S&C are competent to identify and maintain two-levelled S&C,” RAIB said.

“In addition, Network Rail should introduce a system to make the necessary information available to enable correct maintenance of two-levelled S&C. The knowledge, skills and experience required to ensure that two-levelled S&C can be maintained competently should be made explicit within Network Rail’s competency management system. The competency requirement should cover all staff likely to be involved in planning, executing and supervising the maintenance of two-levelled S&C.”

There have been four derailments on this crossover in the last 15 years, which the RAIB said highlighted the “importance of paying particular attention to the maintenance of the alignment at locations where the design of track is close to maintenance limits”.

RTM contacted Network Rail for comment but has not yet heard back.

(Top image credit: RAIB)


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