At around 11:34 hrs on 22 January 2014, a track worker was struck by a passenger train as it approached Newark North Gate station. He was part of a team of three carrying out ultrasonic inspection of two sets of points at Newark South Junction and was acting in the role of lookout. The accident happened around 70 metres south of the platforms at the station.
A few minutes before the accident, the lookout and two colleagues arrived at the yard adjacent to the tracks in a van. One colleague was in charge of carrying out the inspections and the other, the ‘controller of site safety’ (COSS), was in overall charge of the safety of the team. They had planned to carry out the inspections on lines that were still open to traffic in accordance with a pre-planned safe system of work. All three had many years of relevant experience in their respective roles and were familiar with the work site.
Upon arrival at the yard, the lookout and tester proceeded to the track to start the inspection work; the COSS remained in the van. Shortly after they had started the inspection, the 10:08 hrs London to Newark North Gate passenger service approached. It was due to stop in platform 3, which required it to negotiate two sets of crossovers. The train blew a warning horn and the two staff on site acknowledged the warning and moved to the nominated place of safety. However, just before the train moved onto the first crossover, the lookout turned to face away from the train, walked towards the station and then out of the position of safety. He moved to a position close to where he had been before the train approached, most probably to check for trains approaching in the opposite direction, having decided that the approaching train was proceeding straight into platform 1. Although the train braked and blew a second warning horn, the lookout did not turn to face the train until it was too late for him to take evasive action.
As a consequence of this accident, RAIB has made two recommendations and identified a learning point. The recommendations are addressed to Network Rail and relate to:
- improving work site safety discipline and vigilance, especially for teams doing routine work with which they are familiar; and
- improving the implementation of Network Rail’s procedures for planning safe systems of work so that the method of working that is chosen minimises the risk to track workers so far as is reasonably practicable, as intended by the procedure
The learning point relates to improving the implementation of Network Rail’s competence assurance process by providing training and sufficient working time to enable front line managers to implement the associated procedures as intended by Network Rail.
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: 16 February 2015