Press release

Bulletin 03/2015: Collision between a train and a wooden sleeper

RAIB has today released its bulletin describing a collision between a train and a wooden sleeper, near Somerleyton, Suffolk, 18 June 2015.

Image showing one of the wooden sleepers found on the railway afterwards (image courtesy of Network Rail)

Image showing one of the wooden sleepers found on the railway afterwards (image courtesy of Network Rail)

On 18 June 2015 at about 05:50 hrs, a train struck a wooden sleeper lying across the track just after passing through Somerleyton station, while travelling at about 35 mph (56 km/h). The train, reporting number 5J61, was the 04:20 hrs empty coaching stock service from Norwich Crown Point depot to Lowestoft, comprising two class 170, three-car diesel multiple units. At the time the driver did not know what his train had struck and in response he applied the train’s brake and brought the train to a stand.

After contacting the signaller and being given permission to go onto the tracks to examine his train, the driver left the cab and found a wooden sleeper wedged underneath the front of the train. The driver, who was accompanied by a second driver, removed the sleeper and found another two sleepers nearby; one lying in the middle of the track under the train and one lying close to the track a short distance behind the train. There were no injuries and there was only minor damage to the train.

Following engineering work the night before. work had taken place to collect bundles of scrap wooden sleepers alongside the railway between Somerleyton and Oulton Broad North (towards Lowestoft) using a road rail vehicle with front and rear trailers. During this work, three sleepers fell onto the railway and the staff undertaking this work were not aware of this when they handed the railway back so that trains could start running again.

RAIB has identified two learning points. One is for Network Rail to remind its staff who plan work involving the lifting and transporting of loads on trailers, that control measures should be specified in the authorised work plan. The second reinforces the need for the Rule Book (GE/RT8000) to be reviewed with the objective of clarifying the responsibilities for ensuring the safety of the line at the conclusion of engineering work. This issue is already identified in recommendation 2 of our investigation into an accident in Watford tunnel, RAIB report 12/2015.


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Published 10 November 2015