Report 19/2015: Container detachments, Cumbria and Lincolnshire

Containers detaching from freight trains at Scout Green, 7 March 2015 & Deeping St Nicholas, 31 March 2015.

At around 02:20 hrs on 7 March 2015 an empty 30 ft container became detached from a freight train on the West Coast Main Line at Scout Green, Cumbria. It passed over the adjacent track and came to rest down an embankment. There was no damage to the railway infrastructure or to other trains. A sleeper service had passed the site in the opposite direction about four minutes earlier.

In a separate incident at around 15:22 hrs on 31 March 2015, an empty 40 ft container was blown from a freight train, near Deeping St Nicholas, Lincolnshire. The container was dragged a short distance by the train, causing extensive damage to the infrastructure, before coming to rest on the adjacent track. There were no passenger services in the area at the time although a freight train had passed the site about five minutes earlier.

The container detachments were caused by strong gusting winds combined with the speed of the trains, and a defective design of container retention.

The circumstances of these events were very similar to other container detachments at Hardendale and Cheddington in 2008 which were investigated by the RAIB. That investigation report made a number of recommendations which, had they been implemented, would have prevented these further detachments. This report, therefore, makes no further recommendations. However, three learning points have been identified. These relate to the implementation of the previous recommendations and, where risk is mitigated by procedural measures, to the need for the systematic integration of freight operating companies’ operating procedures with Network Rail’s procedures.


Published 7 December 2015
Last updated 7 December 2015 + show all updates
  1. Amended report link.

  2. First published.