Derailment of a passenger train near Cummersdale

Derailment of a passenger train near Cummersdale, Cumbria, 1 June 2009.

On 1 June 2009, train 2C31 was travelling on the Maryport and Carlisle section of the Cumbrian Coast line, heading towards Carlisle.  The driver of train 2C31 had been requested to visually examine the line between Dalston and Cummersdale near Carlisle to find a defect in the track which had been reported by the driver of the preceding train, 2C47, to the signaller.  While scanning the line, the driver of train 2C31 noticed a severe track buckle approximately 200 metres ahead.  He applied the emergency brake but was unable to stop before the buckle.  The leading bogie of train 2C31 derailed and ran on for approximately 25 metres. 

There were no injuries among the passengers and crew on board.  Damage to the single car train was principally around the leading bogie and surrounding vehicle body.  Damage to the track was confined to a length of about 30 metres around the point of derailment, however, more extensive repairs to stabilise the track over a distance of approximately 1.6 km were carried out. 

The immediate cause of the derailment was flange climb of the right leading wheel as train 2C31 ran over the severe track buckle.

The causal factors which led to the derailment of train 2C31 include: the warm weather and insufficient expansion gaps in the jointed track; control of rail creep in the area of the derailment was not effective; the tight joints in the vicinity of the derailment site were not reported; the track was disturbed at a naturally weak point on the day before the derailment; a lack of recognition of the risk being imported by disturbing the track; the speed of train 2C31; and communications and instructions passed between the signaller and driver.

RAIB has made five recommendations concerning improved standards for the maintenance and repair of jointed track; identifying and monitoring sections of jointed track on the network which have similar characteristics to the track which buckled at Cummersdale; re-briefing of signallers on the correct actions to take when a track defect has been reported which could endanger a train; introduction of a specific requirement in the Rule Book for train drivers to clarify with the signaller what the maximum speed should be when examining the line.


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 Cummersdale

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