Accident at West Lodge level crossing, near Haltwhistle, Northumberland, 22 January 2008
At around 17.30 hours on 22 January 2008 the driver of a freight train reporting number 6E62 spotted a person appearing from trackside vegetation at West Lodge crossing. The driver sounded his horn immediately and continuously as he walked the few steps to the crossing and onto the line.
The person, was between the rails of the up line and had taken no avoiding action when the train struck him. The train driver stopped sounding his horn and applied the brake, with the train coming to a standstill 583 metres beyond the point of collision. The person involved suffered immediate fatal injuries.
The RAIB investigation identified that the immediate cause of the accident as the person walking onto the track as the train approached.
The investigation found that the person could not have used the crossing safely because:
- he had insufficient sighting distance for the approach of trains
- he may not have heard the train over traffic noise from a nearby trunk road
- he may not have discerned the crossing and its warning signs from their surroundings in darkness.
Network Rail was responsible for inspecting and assessing West Lodge crossing. Prior to the accident they identified insufficient sighting distance and proposed improvements, but never acted upon them. The RAIB has not been able to ascertain a reason why this was not done.
As a consequence of this accident, RAIB have made four recommendations targeted at Network Rail. These relate to making West Lodge and any similar crossings safe for pedestrians and revising management systems, inspections and assessments to confirm that foreseeable circumstances are considered, findings are acted upon and similar accidents are prevented.
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.