Report 24/2009: Freight train collision at Leigh-on-Sea

Freight train collision at Leigh-on-Sea, 26 April 2008.


On 26 April 2008 at approximately 06:30 hrs an engineers’ train involved in track renewal work struck the rear of a similar, stationary train at approximately 15 mph (22 km/h) whilst being positioned within the engineering possession for the work. Two wagons were severely damaged, and a locomotive sustained minor damage. There were no casualties.

The immediate cause of the collision was that the train driver did not limit his speed in accordance with the engineering supervisor’s instructions.

This was because:

  • The driver did not recognise he was within a work site, and did not control the speed of the train as instructed (and as laid down in the rule book)
  • There is no procedure to maintain a written record of an engineering supervisor’s instructions about the movement of trains in a work site. The lack of this discipline meant that the engineering supervisor did not realise that the driver had not absorbed his instructions
  • The driver was in a state of fatigue, which he did not report to his control
  • The engineering supervisor did not know the exact location of the trains within the work site, and hence his instructions to the driver were not specific
  • Other staff in the locomotive cab did not challenge the driver’s excessive speed.

As a consequence of this accident, RAIB has made seven recommendations targeted at Network Rail, Balfour Beatty and the Rail Standards and Safety Board. These relate to the planning, risk assessment and use of engineering trains within work sites and the means of communication about the movement of such trains.

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 Leigh on Sea

Published 10 December 2014