News story

Derailment at Ely West Junction, 14 August 2017

Investigation into a derailment of a freight train at Ely West Junction, 14 August 2017.

Part of the derailed train at Ely West Junction
Part of the derailed train at Ely West Junction

At around 14:20 hrs on 14 August 2017, a freight train derailed at Ely West Junction, near the town of Ely in Cambridgeshire. The train was travelling from the port of Felixstowe to a terminal at Doncaster and consisted of a diesel locomotive hauling 30 container-carrying wagons. The rear 12 wagons became derailed as the train traversed a set of points which formed part of the junction.

As a result of the derailment, there was extensive damage to the railway infrastructure. The derailed wagons were also damaged. There were no injuries. The railway was closed to all trains until 03:00 hrs on 21 August 2017.

Our investigation will seek to identify the sequence of events that led to the accident and how the wagons derailed. It will also consider:

  • the condition of the track and its geometry in the area of the derailment
  • the condition of the wagons and their maintenance
  • how the weight was distributed on the first wagon to derail, and the likely effect that this had on its derailment resistance
  • similar UK derailments of container flat wagons in recent years and the industry’s response to subsequent safety recommendations
  • any relevant underlying management factors

Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

We will publish our findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of our investigation. This report will be available on our website.

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Published 24 August 2017