At 09:37 hrs on 2 December 2009, a westbound train struck and killed a track worker as it passed Whitehall West junction. At the time of the accident the train was driven by a trainee in the presence of a supervisor driver while three more trainee drivers travelled in the rear vehicle.
The immediate cause of the accident was that the west-facing lookout did not move from the path of the train as it approached.
The causal factors were that the west-facing lookout: moved from a safe position and was possibly unaware that he was in the path of trains and was possibly unaware that a train was approaching him.
RAIB also observed that: the Yorkshire Ambulance Service driver could not find the accident location without assistance as the access point had a grid reference but not a postcode and on another occasion this has the potential to cause delay; the work was planned to take place while the track remained open to trains; there were errors in the safe system of work; and the Huddersfield lines were re-opened in view of the accident site.
RAIB made two recommendations concerning: consideration of ways to reduce the risk of lookouts moving dangerously close to trains and if appropriate making arrangements to physically identify a safe position; and the ambulance services of the United Kingdom should consider ways to reduce the risk of ambulance drivers being unable to find places on the railway that do not have postcodes and if appropriate make arrangements for them to navigate to those places.
On 19 October 2011, RAIB published the addendum to the report into the Fatal Accident at Whitehall West Junction, Leeds, on 2 December 2009. The addendum includes information on the briefing RAIB gave to the Operations Focus Group in September 2010, as the undertaking to do so in paragraph 82 of the report negated the need for a recommendation on the sounding of train horns.
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.