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Poor maintenance by Network Rail caused train derailment

A Greater Anglia train derailed just outside of Liverpool Street station due to an inappropriate inspection regime, according to a report from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

The investigators found that the track maintenance engineer, and section manager (track), did not have the technical knowledge to identify the need for a “non-standard inspection and maintenance regime” at Liverpool Street. The report also criticises the infrastructure maintenance engineer for not recognising the shortcomings of the track maintenance engineer and section manager (track).

The accident occurred shortly after 10am on Wednesday 23 January 2013. The 10.00 Greater Anglia service from London Liverpool Street to Norwich derailed 260 metres outside the station. The train – an unpowered driving van trailer and eight Mark 3 coaches pushed by a Class 90 locomotive, had just left platform 13 when 17 wheelsets derailed on a tight curve. But as the train continued, all the wheelsets were guided back onto the correct rail within a distance of 40 metres.

The driver was unaware of any problem until the senior conductor told him that passengers had reported a rough ride and dust falling from the ceiling. However, the signalling system had identified a problem at a set of points used by the train when leaving the station.

The driver stopped and examined his train at Shenfield, but saw nothing unusual. No-one appreciated that there had been a derailment until the train was examined by a specialist inspector when it arrived at Norwich and, at about the same time, a signal maintenance team found track damage close to Liverpool Street station.

The train derailed on the curve because the track fixings had deteriorated over time.

A second train, a Class 321, passed over the same stretch shortly after but did not derail.

According to the RAIB, the tight curve and other non-standard trackwork at Liverpool Street should have triggered “consideration of mitigation measures to deal with the associated enhanced derailment risk”.

The investigation found that no consideration had been given to these enhanced risks because the maintenance management staff did not have the knowledge necessary to understand and appreciate them. The report also said that the lack of knowledge had not been appreciated by more senior staff and that the Network Rail procedures for establishing a track inspection and maintenance regime for non-standard track did not require the regime to be independently checked.

The RAIB also found that records of maintenance inspections were not available due to shortcomings in the filing system.

RAIB made three recommendations to Network Rail. The first relates to providing assurance that suitable inspection regimes are established, recorded and validated for non-standard track assets. The second recommendation is intended to ensure assessment of management staff’s safety critical track related competencies to ensure they have the necessary experience and knowledge to perform that role. The third recommendation seeks a review and improvement of the competency assessment processes applicable to managers with safety critical roles linked to the maintenance of assets other than track.

Network Rail said it was already taking a number of actions to address the points in the report including an enhanced programme of heavy maintenance and investment at Liverpool Street focused on track and signalling. It has also made changes to the maintenance and track teams, which look after Liverpool Street and instituted more effective monitoring of track at Liverpool Street.

A spokesperson said: “We have the safest major railway in Europe and incidents such as these are incredibly rare. We have already started to address the issues raised in the RAIB report and will carefully consider their recommendations and take any necessary further action."

(Image: c.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Colin Thompson   12/12/2014 at 14:14

1. The stock shown is not of the type that derailed. 2. The type and placing of the "tunnel" lighting at the derailment is wholly unsuited to the detailed inspections required. 3. Oh dear, nothing ever changes... Inspection teams need WORKPLACE and NOT PC-based competence assessment, then REGULAR monitoring/mentoring by an independent and keen track engineer well experienced in inspection & maintenance. (The root cause?)

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