On 14 July 2013, a passenger train approaching Woodbridge station in Suffolk struck a car at Jetty Avenue user worked level crossing
The accident occurred in daylight and at low speed. The train was not derailed, but the car driver suffered minor injuries.
The car driver was using the level crossing to access a private boatyard situated between the railway and the River Deben. He was a volunteer, assisting in removing equipment following a local regatta which had been held partly on land owned by the boatyard earlier in the day. The car driver had used the level crossing on previous occasions, but had not been briefed on its use.
There were no telephones or warning lights at the crossing so safe use depended on vehicle drivers looking for approaching trains. The car driver, who was an occasional user of the level crosssing, normally relied on checking for trains by looking up and down the railway when swinging open the vehicular gates on foot. He did this because he was aware that his view of the railway would be obscured as he returned to the car and drove it towards the crossing. A curve in the railway meant that the train involved in the accident was not visible to the car driver when he was at the crossing, and could only be seen from this location after the driver had begun to return to his car. The driver did not become aware of the train until he had driven his car into its path.
Our investigation has found that instructions given to car drivers using this, and similar, level crossings were inadequate. It also found that Network Rail’s method for ensuring that vehicle drivers have an adequate view of approaching trains was incompatible with the characteristics of both the car involved in the accident and many of the vehicles expected to use crossings of this type.
RAIB has made five recommendations. Four recommendations are addressed to Network Rail and cover the management of level crossings where safe use of the crossing relies on road vehicle drivers seeing approaching trains. One recommendation is made to the Office of Rail Regulation and seeks clarification of its guidance on this issue.
RAIB believes it is possible that the accident at Jetty Avenue user worked crossing could have been avoided by full implementation of two Recommendations in the RAIB report: ‘Investigation into safety at user worked crossings’ (Report 13/2009). These relate to guiding vehicle drivers to stop at an appropriate place before deciding whether it is safe to cross the railway.
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.