At around 06:57 hours on 4 February 2016, a passenger train collided with an excavator bucket that was lying on the track near Knockmore Junction.
The train was the 06:25 hrs Northern Ireland Railways service from Great Victoria Street, Belfast to Portadown. It consisted of two Class 3000, three-car diesel multiple units. While passing Knockmore Junction, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) west of Lisburn station, and travelling at about 60 mph (96 km/h), it struck the excavator bucket. The driver applied the train’s brakes and stopped about 330 metres after the point of impact.
As the train pushed the bucket along the track, the leading vehicle was lifted off the rails as it rode over the obstruction. The train stopped with all wheels back on the rails and the excavator bucket wedged under the fuel tank, about 8 - 10 metres from the front of the vehicle.
One passenger received medical attention after the accident. The leading vehicle was badly damaged, and had to be lifted by crane from the railway and transported by road back to the Northern Ireland Railways depot in Belfast. The track was repaired overnight and was open in time for train services the following day.
The 06:25 hrs service was the first to use that line following engineering work the night before. Routine maintenance work between Knockmore Junction and Moira (towards Portadown) required use of two road-rail excavator vehicles and a trailer. During this work, an excavator bucket was left on the track. Staff handing back the line for operational use were not aware of this.
Our investigation will examine the sequence of events leading up to and during the collision, the engineering work that took place the previous evening, including its planning and the method of work, and any relevant underlying management issues.
Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry, the Department of Regional Development (Northern Ireland) or the Health & Safety Executive (Northern Ireland).
We will publish our findings, including any safety recommendations at the conclusion of our investigation; this will be available on our website.
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