At 11:44 hrs on 16 July 2013 a collision occurred between a passenger train and a farm trailer at Buttington Hall farm crossing near Welshpool on the line between Shrewsbury and Machynlleth. The tractor driver and two other people nearby sustained minor injuries and two passengers on the train were injured and taken to hospital, but were discharged later that day.
The train involved was operated by Arriva Trains Wales and consisted of two 2-car units. It was travelling at 120 km/h (75 mph) at the time of the collision. The train was running from Birmingham International to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli and there were 140 passengers and two crew members on board. On the day of the accident, the farm crossing was being used by tractors bringing in a harvest from fields on the opposite side of the line to the farm. The farmer had appointed a contractor to carry out the harvesting operation, and an attendant had been provided at the crossing to phone the signaller and operate the gates.
The accident occurred because the system of work in use at the crossing was inherently unsafe, leading to ineffective control of road vehicle movements over the crossing and frequent use of the crossing without the signaller being contacted. This system broke down. There were also underlying management factors:
- the harvest contractor did not implement an effective safe system of work at the crossing
- Network Rail’s process for risk assessment of these types of crossing did not adequately deal with periods of intensive use
- Network Rail’s instructions to users of these crossings did not cover periods of intensive use.
RAIB has made three recommendations:
- main line infrastructure managers should improve the risk assessment process at these crossings to take into account the increased risk during periods of intensive use
- main line infrastructure managers should define safe and practical methods of working to be adopted at these crossings during periods of intensive use
- RSSB should update the level crossing risk management toolkit to reflect the changes brought about by the second recommendation.
RAIB has also noted a learning point from an observation made during the investigation concerning the prolonged closure of an adjacent level crossing on a main road after the accident.
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.