News story

Two signal passed at danger incidents

Investigation into signals passed at danger, Reading Westbury Line Junction, 28 March 2015, and Ruscombe Junction, 3 November 2015

This news article was withdrawn on

This item has been moved to the National Archives as RAIB has published its report describing the incidents. See Report 18/2016

Library image of four-aspect junction signal arrangement
Library image of four-aspect junction signal arrangement

At approximately 08:22 hrs on 28 March 2015, the 08:25 hrs Acton Yard to Merehead Quarry freight service, reporting number 7C29 (running approximately one hour early) passed signal T1729 on the Up Westbury line at Reading Westbury Line Junction by about 20 metres.

In a separate incident at approximately 06:12 hrs on 3 November 2015, the 06:22 hrs Acton Yard to Merehead Quarry freight service, reporting number 7C29 (running approximately one hour early) passed signal T1627 at Ruscombe (near Twyford) at danger by about 60 metres.

Both trains were operated by DB Schenker (DBS). In both cases, the driver applied the train’s brakes when the train was close to the respective signal, and before the Train Protection and Warning System at the signal intervened, but not in time to prevent the train passing the signal at danger.

For both incidents, the initial evidence suggests that driver fatigue may have been a factor. Other similarities between the two incidents were that they involved the same train service and occurred approximately seven miles apart. In both cases the drivers had booked on duty around midnight, worked a train from Westbury to Acton, and then after taking a layover at Acton, departed with their return working to Westbury approximately one hour early.

Our investigation of the two incidents will include examination of:

  • the sequence of events
  • the arrangements for reporting, monitoring and managing fatigue
  • any other recent incidents involving freight trains where fatigue may have been a factor (including an accident involving a signal being passed at danger and subsequently derailing on trap points at Santon New Junction (near Scunthorpe) on 7 August 2015)
  • the response to recommendations made by the RAIB following previous relevant incidents involving fatigue, with particular reference to the RAIB’s investigation into the runaway at Shap on 17 August 2010 (RAIB report 15/2011)
  • any relevant underlying management factors.

Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

We will publish our findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of our investigation. This report will be available on our website.

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Published 3 December 2015