Report 11/2011: Accident at Falls of Cruachan

Accident at Falls of Cruachan, Argyll, 6 June 2010.


At 20:55 hrs on Sunday 6 June 2010, the 18:20 hrs train from Glasgow Queen Street to Oban struck a boulder that had fallen onto the track just west of the station at Falls of Cruachan, in the Pass of Brander, on the line from Crianlarich to Oban. The boulder lifted up the front coach of the two-coach train and derailed it to the left and down an embankment. The leading bogie of the rear coach came to a stand supported by the boulder with the rear bogie still on the track.

Of the 64 passengers and three crew on the train, eight of the passengers were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

The boulder had fallen down the cutting slope onto the railway from within the railway boundary. It had become insecure due to the growth of tree roots around it, which gradually prised it from its stable position, and soil erosion from normal rainfall. Network Rail’s earthworks management system applied to cutting slopes had not identified the hazard of loose boulders in the area that the accident occurred.

RAIB has made five recommendations to Network Rail relating to the management of earthworks. These include:

  • improving the clearance of vegetation growing on earthworks so that hazards to the safety of railway operation can be identified
  • improvements to the collection of slope data so that a full appreciation of the condition of slopes is obtained
  • improvements to the process for the implementation of remediation works to prevent future earthworks failures.

A further recommendation has been made relating to the prevention of lighting diffusers and other saloon panels on rolling stock becoming displaced during accidents.

Response to recommendations:

  • RAIB will periodically update the status of recommendations as reported to us by the relevant safety authority or public body
  • RAIB may add comment, particularly if we have concerns regarding these responses.

RAIB Recommendation response for Falls of Cruachan

Published 10 December 2014