At about 06:06 hrs on 28 January 2015, the 03:57 hrs freight service from Warrington Arpley yard to Doncaster, struck platform supports along the edge of the Down platform at Moston station, near Manchester. This displaced other parts of the platform structure which were then struck, at about 06:17 hrs, by the 06:12 hrs passenger service from Manchester Victoria to Leeds. There were no injuries but both trains suffered minor damage.
The freight train struck the platform structure because spigots intended to secure containers to a wagon, were projecting beyond the permitted width of the wagon. It is not known when the spigots were moved to this position, but closed circuit television (CCTV) evidence indicates that they left Warrington in this condition. The wagon design did not include a physical restraint to prevent the spigots being left in this position, but a member of staff at Warrington Arpley yard was required to check that they were correctly stowed. It is uncertain why this person did not notice the incorrect stowage; possibilities include concentrating on other aspects of his work and the difficulty of distinguishing the wrongly positioned spigots from the similarly coloured side of the wagon.
It is unlikely that the accident would have occurred if the spacing between Moston Down platform and the adjacent track had met current criteria for new platforms. A high proportion of Network Rail platforms do not meet these criteria and, since 2009, continued use has been permitted where there has been no indication of significant risk. It is possible that historical movements of the platform are at least part of the reason for the tight clearances at Moston, but there has been no significant movement since January 2009. Although not related to the accident, RAIB observed shortcomings in the Network Rail process for identifying such movements.
As a consequence of this accident, RAIB has made two recommendations. The first, addressed to operators of container wagons, aims to prevent spigots being left in an unsafe position or, if this is not practicable, using paint or alternative means to ensure that incorrectly stowed spigots are easily seen. The second recommendation is addressed to Network Rail and requires that it provides effective processes for identifying platforms at which the distance to the adjacent track is reducing gradually.
RAIB has also identified one learning point relating to the importance of checking that nothing projects beyond permitted limits before wagons commence journeys.
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: 07 October 2015