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Trains passed over unsupported track in Yorkshire following heavy rain

Heavy rain was so bad last month that the embankment was washed away under part of the track at Baildon in West Yorkshire, allowing two trains to pass over it despite a Network Rail inspection.

RTM previously reported that on 7 June a small section of supporting embankment under the line near Baildon was washed away by flash floods due to heavy rain.

However, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has now reported that it is investigating an incident on the evening of that day when two passenger trains passed over a length of three to four metres of unsupported track, although neither train derailed.

Earlier on 7 June, a member of the public reported the washed-out track to the Fire and Rescue Service, who then informed Network Rail, and a train driver reported flooding in the area to the local signaller.

Network Rail stopped services on the line while it carried out an inspection, but it did not identify the damage and gave permission for services to resume running at 5.29pm.

The 5.16pm service from Bradford Forster Square to Ilkley then crossed the unsupported track at 5.45pm. The driver did not notice, but a member of the public saw the train and reported it to police, who passed the complaint on to Network Rail.

However, before Network Rail was able to block traffic on the line, the 5.20pm Ilkley to Bradford Forster Square service also crossed it at a speed of 45mph.

The driver saw the damaged track but was unable to stop in time. He was shaken by the event and stopped as soon as possible to make an emergency call to the signaller.

The RAIB said that it will identify the sequence of events that led to the two trains crossing the tracks.

It said the investigation will also explore any known vulnerabilities to flood damage on this section of track, any extreme weather plans for the area, how the reports of the track damage and the flooding were communicated within Network Rail, and how the examination of the line was managed.

RTM contacted Network Rail for a comment but had not received a reply at the time of publication.

The Rail Safety and Standards Branch (RSSB) recently published its final report into the impact of climate change on the British rail industry. It stated that disruption caused by flash floods and other extreme weather events is likely to become more common and the industry needs a cohesive plan to deal with it.

1.10pm UPDATE

A Network Rail spokesperson said: "We are working with the RAIB into the investigation at Baildon."

(Image c. Network Rail)

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Colin T   15/07/2016 at 13:09

This incident substantively justifies the continuation of Basic Visual Routine Track Inspection, i.e. in daylight hours, undertaken by a well-trained pair of Mk1 eyeballs. ("Expect the unexpected").

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