Press release

Report 20/2016: Collision at Knockmore Junction

RAIB has today released its report into a collision at Knockmore Junction, Northern Ireland, 4 February 2016.

The train interior with visible distortion to the vehicle floor.
The train interior with visible distortion to the vehicle floor.


At around 06:53 hrs on 4 February 2016, the 06:25 hrs passenger train from Belfast Great Victoria Street to Portadown collided with an excavator bucket. This had been left on the track near Knockmore Junction, about 1.25 miles (2 km) from Lisburn Station. The train hit the bucket at a speed of 57 mph (92 km/h) and then travelled 330 metres in an upright position before stopping. There were no significant injuries to the people on the train, but the leading vehicle was badly damaged and the track required repair.

The bucket had been detached from an excavator machine undertaking track maintenance work during the previous night when regular train services were not running. The machine driver had forgotten about the bucket. The track safety co-ordinator had not remained near the machine, as required by the rule book, and so was unaware that the bucket had been detached. Other members of the work group had not noticed that it remained on the track as they removed other equipment in darkness. There was no effective process for checking that the track was clear of obstructions before the line was reopened to regular services.

The work group was working within a worksite to which access was being controlled by an engineering supervisor. Although not a factor in the accident, the track safety co-ordinator and engineering supervisor had arranged this access using an informal method that did not meet the rule book requirements.


As a result of this accident, RAIB has made two recommendations addressed to Northern Ireland Railways. The first seeks a formalised process for checking that lines are safe after engineering work is complete and before the line is reopened to regular traffic. The second seeks a review and possible modifications to the formalised communication arrangements used by engineering supervisors controlling access to the railway.

RAIB has also identified three learning points relating to track safety co-ordinators always remaining with their work groups, minimising risks due to objects capable of endangering trains being placed on the line and compliance with formalised arrangements for controlling access to worksites.

Notes to editors

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. For media enquiries, please call 01932 440015.

Newsdate: 17 October 2016


This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format.

If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.

Published 17 October 2016