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RAIB calls for obstacle deflector retrofit on Electrostars after Kent derailment

The investigation into a passenger train derailment caused by cows in Kent last year has led to calls for obstacle deflectors to be retrofitted onto train units.

The derailment occurred at 21.40 on 26 July when a London Southeastern train struck eight cows at Godmersham, between Wye and Chilham. None of the 67 passengers and three staff members on board were injured.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report into the investigation said that the derailment was more likely because of the absence of an obstacle deflector on the leading unit, a class 375 Electrostar. It urges Southeastern, as well as Govia Thameslink, Porterbrook and Eversholt, who also use the units, to retrofit deflectors on the Electrostars.

RAIB chief inspector Simon French said: “Train derailments are potentially dangerous and travelling at 69mph, it was lucky that no passengers were injured in this accident.”

The train’s GSM-R radio system was damaged in the accident and the driver had to use his mobile phone to alert the signalling centre.

The report encourages London Southeastern, Siemens and Network Rail to complete their work into understanding the problem with the radio and to implement reasonable measures to ensure similar problems don’t occur in the future.

The cows were able to enter the railway because of faults in Network Rail’s maintenance of the fence. There was a report of a cow on the track an hour before the accident, but a subsequent examination by the driver of the next train didn’t find anything.

The report, therefore, recommends that Network Rail modifies its risk ratings for fencing inspections and provides improved guidance to signallers on dealing with large animals on the rail network.

Network Rail and Southeastern produced a joint statement saying: “Network Rail and Southeastern co-operated fully with the RAIB on this report and we have noted its conclusions and recommendations. We will continue to work together to run a safe and reliable railway for our passengers.”

The RAIB are also conducting an investigation into last week's train crash at Plymouth station.

(Image c. RAIB)


Andrew Gwilt   08/04/2016 at 00:03

I reckon thats the 2nd time that Southeastern have had a incident involving lifestocks in Kent. Plus the train was travelling at around 70mph. Thats just pure luck that no one wasn't killed when the train derailed. Pure luck.

CT   08/04/2016 at 17:46

Once again, nothing new. Purely from memory, didn't something JUST like this happen in Scotland between Edinburgh and Glasgow some 40 years ago? After due testing, I believe the driving trailer coach got extra weight, plus a 'cow-catcher' was also fitted at that end of the push-pull trains. (Easy to search and verify, of course.)

Dr P.N. Jarvis   08/04/2016 at 21:50

And what happened to the poor cows?

CT   09/04/2016 at 09:42

They were cut into c(h)alves! Best wishes,

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