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RAIB criticises lack of risk assessment following electrification accident

Both Network Rail and Balfour Beatty need to ensure the dangers of new railborne plant are managed properly, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has said in a review of a runaway train incident in 2014.

The incident occurred at 12.11am on 27 November 2014 near Bryn station, where Balfour Beatty were carrying out work for the north west electrification programme, using a specially adapted wagon, first introduced in 2012, on which the overhead wiring team were located.

The wagon ran away after the driver of the attached haulage vehicle did not correctly operate the controls to change from a travelling mode to a working mode before he left the cab, causing the brakes to release and the brake controls to become disabled.

The two trains collided with two mobile elevating work platforms in the station, which were seriously damaged. Three of the staff on the wagon suffered minor injuries, while seven other staff members only just managed to move clear of the collision.

RAIB found that Balfour Beatty introduced the wiring train, which has now been withdrawn from service, with minimum design change despite the new use it was being put to. In its risk assessments, it also failed to consider the possibility of human error or the need for the brake controls to be fail safe.

The RAIB said that Balfour Beatty should carry out a risk assessment of its proceedings for introducing new railborne plant.

It added that Network Rail should ensure the risks associated with the introduction of new and modified railborne plant are properly managed before such plant is allowed to operate on its infrastructure. RAIB added that Network Rail should review its processes for accepting new railborne plant on the network and modifying electrical equipment of railborne plant.

Additionally, there were calls for the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) to review and clarify the guidance it provides on changes relating to the operation of vehicles and plant.

Balfour Beatty lost its contract to carry out north west electrification in 2015. It is currently bidding to deliver HS2 phase 1 civil works.

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Chris   10/05/2016 at 14:43

Risk assessment??? Well, no actually... (drives me daft!) Prefer use of the broadly similar term - "risk EVALUATION" - that makes more sense, at least to me, and ALWAYS all those who will use/be affected by any changes. Their input will be crucial. Failing to consider from the outset, the possibility of human error represents fundamental failure. The results of assessments/evaluations do not need to be over-complex and should be comprehensible to our people at the workface, although one blanket control measure for achieving manual handling safety - actually read, "obey the requirements of the M.H.Ops. Regulations at all times." And some good that would be at 04.00 on a wet Sunday.

Andrew Gwilt   10/05/2016 at 23:27

In shear luck. No one was not killed following the accident. Working on the railways especially electrification works, track maintenance works and signalling works.

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