Investigation into a collision on Monday 12 May 2014 between an unmanned runaway train and a set of five stabled coaches
The coaches were stabled on the down main line about 450 metres on the approach to Loughborough Central station. Nobody was injured as a result of the collision, although significant damage was sustained by some of the rail vehicles involved. The GCR was not open to the public when the collision occurred.
The train consisted of a Class 37 locomotive coupled to a single preserved Travelling Post Office (TPO) coach. It ran away on the down main line, with the TPO coach leading, from a position opposite Quorn signal box for a distance of about 1.8 miles (2.9 km) before the collision occurred.
Our preliminary examination has shown that the locomotive had been used during the morning of 12 May to undertake shunting operations within a section of line, around 4.4 miles (7 km) in length, that was closed to normal railway traffic (ie it was under a ‘possession’). As part of these shunting operations, the locomotive had been coupled to the TPO coach, although the braking systems of the locomotive and coach were not connected.
At around 11:50 hrs, the train was left unattended on the down main line opposite Quorn signal box (still within the possession). At this location the line has a 1 in 330 gradient, descending towards Loughborough. This descending gradient becomes steeper beyond Quorn before reducing and subsequently levelling out on the approach to where the collision occurred.
Evidence suggests that, before leaving the train unattended, the crew applied the locomotive’s air brakes, shut-down its engine and applied a single wheel scotch (also known as a chock) underneath one of the locomotive’s wheels. Neither of the two parking brakes (also known as hand brakes) on the locomotive were applied (the TPO coach is not equipped with a parking brake). While the train was unattended it ran away in the direction of Loughborough and exited the possession. Fortunately, no staff were working on the portion of line over which the train ran away.
The set of five coaches which was struck by the train had been stabled on the down main line outside of the possession and within the station limits of Loughborough Central station. The set had been secured by the parking brake of one of its coaches.
Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the Office of Rail Regulation.
We will publish our findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of our investigation. These findings will be available on our website.
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