Broken rails at Urchfont and Kennington

Broken rails at Urchfont and Kennington following the passage of a freight train, 5 January 2006

On Thursday 5 January 2006 a freight train left Meldon Quarry in Devon, bound for Hinksey yard near Oxford. Track circuit failures occurred separately at Urchfont and Kennington, in each case shortly after the freight train passed by. An examination of the line revealed one broken rail at Urchfont and two at Kennington. One of the freight wagons was subsequently found to have severe wheel flats.

The immediate cause of the broken rails was mechanical overload resulting from the impact of the damaged wheel on the rails. There were three causal factors. The underlying cause of the incident was a lack of information sharing between different parties involved, leading to no collective assessment of the risk from the flats and no mitigation.

RAIB has made six recommendations as a result of its investigation, designed to reduce the risk of wheel flats occurring on the line and to improve detection of these faults.


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 Urchfont & Kennington

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