Report 16/2009: Derailment near Deptford Bridge station

Derailment of a Docklands Light Railway train near Deptford Bridge station, London, 4 April 2008.


At 05:22 hrs on 4 April 2008, the 05:19 hrs Docklands Light Railway service from Lewisham had just left Deptford Bridge station, travelling towards Greenwich, when it struck an object on the track. As a result the second axle of the first bogie derailed. The front of the train came to rest 88 metres after hitting the object. No-one was injured in the derailment.

The train, the first one of the day from Lewisham, was under the control of its on-board computer (automatic mode of operation). The object on the track was found to be a steel drilling jig that had been in use during engineering activities earlier that morning.

There were no injuries to the 59 persons on board the train and all were evacuated safely back to Deptford Bridge station.

The RAIB investigation identified that:

  • the immediate cause of the accident was that the DLR train struck a drilling jig that had been left across the running rail, and derailed
  • the Person In Charge Of Work (PICOW) and the other drillers did not realise that the drilling jig had been left at site across a running rail
  • there was no procedure requiring a systematic check that all equipment representing a derailment risk was accounted for
  • the PICOW did not undertake a systematic and adequate check of the work site
  • the site working lights were switched off before items on the track were cleared, leaving the area in darkness.

Five recommendations have been targeted at Serco Docklands, the operator of the Docklands Light Railway. These cover:

  • reviews of the company’s competency management system, its operational safety management systems, its current rules and procedures
  • identifying safety process indicators.

Four recommendations have been targeted at Docklands Light Railway Ltd. These cover:

  • the implementation of processes to improve visibility of equipment representing a derailment risk
  • modifications to control centre systems
  • the role of sweep trains
  • the production of a DLR common rule book and procedures. 

Two recommendations have been targeted at Carillion JM Ltd, the contractor involved. These cover:

  • the role of the senior PICOW
  • method statements being up-to-date for the work being carried out.

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 Deptford Bridge

Updates to this page

Published 10 December 2014