At around 18:45 hrs on Sunday 11 May 2014, a passenger train approaching the village of Frampton Mansell, in Gloucestershire, struck a motorcycle on Frampton level crossing. The rider of the motorcycle was fatally injured. The train did not derail, and there were no reported injuries to anyone on the train.
The rider was crossing the railway on a trail bike, a type of motorcycle designed for use on public roads and for off-road use. He was the last of a group of three riders who had reached the level crossing along an unsurfaced track leading from a minor road near the village of Sapperton.
Signage on the approach to the crossing instructed vehicle users (eg trail bike riders) to use a telephone located close to the crossing. This allowed the railway signaller to tell users whether it was safe to cross the railway. The riders did not use the telephone because they believed that they could cross safely by looking for trains before crossing, and because the signs did not grab their attention sufficiently for them to read the information on them. The riders did not know that a curve in the railway meant that they could not rely on seeing an approaching train as a means of deciding whether it was safe to cross. The train’s warning horn was sounded as it approached, but the trail bike riders could not hear this because they were wearing full-face crash helmets and their trail bike engines were noisy. Network Rail had received some information that trail bikers were using the crossing, but had not taken effective action to manage the associated risk of unsafe use.
Although permitted to use vehicles on both approaches to the level crossing, the trail bike riders were unaware they were not among the people permitted to use vehicles on the crossing. The signs giving instructions to vehicle users did not explain this, and there was no other indication at the crossing, or on the approaches. There was no requirement for signs or other indications to be provided by Network Rail, or any other organisation, to indicate that the general public were not permitted to take vehicles onto the level crossing.
The investigation identified three observations, unrelated to the accident, relating to level crossing signage, correct sounding of train warning horns and provision of reliable images from CCTV cameras fitted to trains.
As a consequence of this investigation, RAIB has made six recommendations. Two addressed to Network Rail, one addressed to the ORR and one addressed to the Department for Transport relate to improved content and positioning of information provided to level crossing users. Two recommendations addressed to Network Rail require it to seek a better understanding of actual (not only permitted) use of level crossings, and, in conjunction with highway authorities, to raise public awareness of locations where the general public are not permitted to take vehicles onto level crossings.
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: 28 May 2015