On 21 August 2006 a fire broke out in the load compartment of a lorry on an HGV shuttle train from the UK to France. The train was brought to a controlled stop 20.5km from the UK portal and all 34 people on board were evacuated without injury. The carrier wagon was structurally damaged, and there was some damage to the overhead line and the tunnel lining. Normal operation of services through the tunnel resumed the next afternoon.
The immediate cause of the accident was a fire in the load compartment of a lorry on the penultimate wagon of the HGV shuttle. A contributory factor was the difficulty in detecting a smouldering fire within the lorry’s load compartment. The report also identified several factors relating to the effectiveness of detection and surveillance in the terminal, and the effectiveness of the incident management.
Overall, the incident was well-managed by staff on the train, by the controllers, and by the emergency services. However, RAIB has made sixteen detailed recommendations as a result of this incident. These are aimed at:
- the loading and despatch processes for HGV shuttles
- briefing and training of staff involved in implementing emergency procedures
- possible enhancements to train, tunnel and control room equipment and services to facilitate incident handling
- communications from the site to the Integrated Control Centre
- arrangements for debriefing between all parties after an incident.
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.