On Wednesday 19 October 2005 the 10:45 WAGN service from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn collided with a tractor, which was hauling a trailer over a user worked level crossing between Littleport and Downham Market.
The accident led to the destruction of the tractor and the death of its driver. The leading vehicle of the train was damaged in the impact, and minor injuries were sustained by the train driver and a passenger.
The immediate cause of the accident was that the driver started to cross the railway line despite the miniature stop light being red and with a train approaching at speed. Casual factors were the possibility that the gates may have been left open prior to the tractors arrival, that the tractor driver may not have noticed the stop lights, and the limited visibility of the line from the tractor. There are two alternative underlying causes, but it is not possible to distinguish which of these was the cause on the evidence available.
RAIB has made four recommendations as a result of its investigation:
- Infrastructure Owners to manage lineside vegetation to improve visibility at user worked crossings
- ORR (HMRI) and Department for Transport to evaluate whether highway signs at user worked crossings are appropriately designed and located
- Network Rail to maintain records of the features required at each user worked crossing
- Infrastructure Owners to regularly write to all users of user worked crossings to draw their attention to the safe method of use.
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