The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report looking into the fatal derailment of a passenger train at Carmont in Aberdeenshire.
The derailment took place on 12th August 2020 and three people tragically died as a result with the remaining six people on the train injured.
RAIB have stated that the derailment was caused when the train struck debris that had been washed out of a drainage trench.
A low earth bank (bund) altered the flow of the rainfall next to the track that morning as 51.5mm of rain fell between 6am and 9am.
The report found that the drainage system had not been constructed in accordance with the original design and could not safely accommodate the water flows that morning.
The service was running from Aberdeen to Glasgow but was returning to Aberdeen due to a blockage on the line ahead.
It was travelling at 73 mph which is the normal speed for the line concerned.
The train deviated to the left after derailing and struck a bridge parapet causing the vehicles to scatter.
Investigators have also found that Network Rail’s management processes had not identified or addressed weaknesses that could have mitigated the consequences of extreme rainfall.
Following on from the accident RAIB has made 20 recommendations for the improvement of railway safety, these include:
- Better management of civil engineering construction from Network Rail and its contractors.
- Further standards and guidance on the safe design of drainage systems.
- Greater operational response to extreme rainfall events, using the full capacity of modern technology, and based on a thorough understanding of the risks associated with extreme rainfall.
- Increasing the capability of route control offices to successfully manage complex events.
- Understanding the risk associated with operating older trains and addressing the design issues set out in the investigation.
- Measures to stop derailing trains from straying too far from the track.
- Addressing the issues around the effective implementation of lessons learnt from the investigation.
- Widening Network Rail’s assurance regime to include route control offices.
Visualisation of the accident at Carmont, video courtesy of Rail Accident Investigation Branch
Simon French, the Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents commented on the findings of the RAIB investigation.
Mr French said: “This was a tragedy that devastated the lives of the three families who lost their loved ones and brought terror and injury to six other people.
“Our thoughts are with them all.
“We owe it to everybody who was affected by it [the accident] to strive to learn safety lessons for the future.
“The tragedy at Carmont is a reminder of just how disruptive and potentially dangerous Britain’s volatile weather can be.
“This investigation highlights the risk of uncontrolled changes to railway infrastructure during construction.
“It’s important for all of us in the rail industry not to dismiss this truly harrowing accident as a one-off event.”
Andrew Haines, Network Rail Chief Executive also spoke on the Carmont report.
Mr Haines said: “This report makes clear that there are fundamental lessons to be learnt by Network Rail and the wider industry.
“In the 18 months since the accident, we have inspected similar locations and drainage systems across the length and breadth of the country.
“The added insight the RAIB has provided today will help us in our efforts.
“We have invested tens of £millions towards improving the general resilience of our railway and how we predict and respond to such events.”
Featured image credit - Rail Accident Investigation Branch