At about 18:05 hrs on 28 July 2017, as a northbound passenger train entered Abergavenny (Y Fenni) station, a cable drooping from the station footbridge became caught on the train’s roof. The train dragged the cable and caused it to be pulled from the footbridge until its end broke free from a distribution cabinet. Once free, the end of the cable struck a group of passengers on the footbridge stairs and caused minor injuries to three of them. A member of station staff who was on the platform, close to the footbridge, was nearly struck by the cable. The accident also caused damage to cabling running over the footbridge, the station buildings, and a signal at the end of the platform.
The cable, which provided the signal box at Abergavenny with its electrical power supply, had become detached from the cable tray running over the footbridge and was drooping down to the extent that it was foul of the train. It then caught on an antenna fixed to the roof of the rear vehicle. The cable was drooping because the nylon cable ties used to attach it to the cable tray had broken. The RAIB found that the cable had not been inspected periodically as required for electrical installations and the drooping cable was not identified during footbridge inspections. It was not reported during routine station safety checks, or after it was drooping below the bottom of the footbridge. An underlying cause was that Network Rail had no controls in place for the management of low voltage electrical supply cables that cross operational railway lines via its overline structures.
The RAIB has made three recommendations to Network Rail. The first calls for the replacement of the existing cable tray running over the footbridge at Abergavenny with a solution that will reduce the risk of cables hanging down. The second relates to documenting and implementing controls for the management of cables that cross operational railway lines via structures at stations. The third is to identify cables at stations that have the potential to droop over the operational railway and be struck by a train, and ensure that the responsibility for testing and inspecting these cables is documented.
The RAIB has also identified two learning points which relate to the importance of staff identifying drooping cables during safety checks and staff reporting any cables they see that are drooping or hanging down over the operational railway.
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: 9 May 2018