Report 12/2013: Collision near Arley, Warwickshire

Collision between a stoneblower and ballast regulator near Arley, Warwickshire, 10 August 2012.


At around 04:21 hrs on 10 August 2012, an engineering machine used for maintaining track, known as a stoneblower, collided with a stationary engineering machine, at approximately 22 mph (35 km/h), near Arley, in Warwickshire. A member of staff on the stoneblower was treated in hospital for a minor injury. The stoneblower was badly damaged and deemed to be beyond economic repair.

The investigation found that when the stoneblower driver sighted the stationary machine he was driving too fast to avoid a collision. The driver’s speed was probably influenced by a number of factors which led him to expect that the line was clear. It is also possible that the driver was distracted immediately prior to the collision which caused him to be driving faster than he realised.

If planned arrangements for the engineering work had been followed the collision would not have occurred.

An underlying cause of this accident is the tendency of long worksites, in the absence of controls to keep engineering trains (including machines) apart, to increase the risk of collision.

Although not a factor in this accident, it is observed that, for driving at night, the 40 mph (64 km/h) maximum speed of travel permitted in engineering worksites is incompatible with the braking and headlight capabilities of the type of engineering machine involved in the collision. The report observes a number of non-compliances with railway industry rules and company procedures during the management of the engineering work. There is also an observation on the difficulties of maintaining the necessary discipline in the driving cab, where mobile telephones are used for communications, to avoid distracting the driver.

The RAIB has made three recommendations to Network Rail. As part of its planned review of the management of engineering work, Network Rail should undertake a fundamental review of the fitness for purpose of the current arrangements and is pointed to a number of areas for potential inclusion in the review. Actions arising from the review should then be implemented. Measures to ensure that train drivers are given all the information they need to make movements safely and to address issues on the use of ntermediaries when conveying information to drivers, are also recommended. In addition, Network Rail is recommended to address a recurrence of specific behavioural issues at its Saltley depot, which the RAIB noted in a previous investigation.

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 Arley

Published 10 December 2014