On 14 May 2015, a passenger train collided with a tractor at Oakwood Farm user worked crossing near Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. The train was carrying 66 people and travelling at 65 mph (105 km/h), but did not derail. The collision caused the front of the tractor to become detached from its cab. The tractor driver suffered minor injuries, and the train driver was treated for shock. However, in different circumstances the consequences could have been much worse.
The tractor driver began crossing the railway after the illuminated warning at the crossing started to display a red light. Oakwood Farm user worked crossing is one of a small number in the country that had been fitted with remotely operated, powered gates. It is likely the tractor driver did not recheck the warning lights after first stopping on the approach to the crossing to press a button to open the gates. This button had not originally been intended to open the gates (it should only have been capable of being used to close them). It was situated at such a distance from the crossing that the time it took for the tractor driver to stop, open the gates and then drive onto the crossing, was greater than the time between the warning light turning red and the arrival of the train. There was no sign at the button to warn the driver to recheck the warning light before going over the crossing. The investigation also found that the warning light was not conspicuous among the many signs present at the crossing.
The underlying causes of the accident were that Network Rail did not ensure that the risks at the crossing were adequately mitigated, and that the process for the introduction of the gate operating equipment was adequately managed.
As a result of this accident, RAIB has made three recommendations to Network Rail.
The first is to improve the safety at Oakwood Farm user worked crossing and the second is to review the safety of other user worked crossings fitted, or planned to be fitted, with the remotely operated gate opening equipment.
The third recommendation is for Network Rail to review the robustness of its processes for introducing new equipment on to its railway infrastructure.
Notes to editors
- The sole purpose of RAIB investigations is to prevent future accidents and incidents and improve railway safety. RAIB does not establish blame, liability or carry out prosecutions.
- RAIB operates, as far as possible, in an open and transparent manner. While our investigations are completely independent of the railway industry, we do maintain close liaison with railway companies and if we discover matters that may affect the safety of the railway, we make sure that information about them is circulated to the right people as soon as possible, and certainly long before publication of our final report.
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Newsdate: 12 April 2016