At about 11:20 am on Sunday 27 July 2008, a luggage van sliding door on train 1S13, the 11:00 am King’s Cross to Aberdeen service, became detached and struck train 1A16, the 08:24 am Leeds to King’s Cross service.
This happened in the vicinity of New Southgate, around 6 ¾ miles (10.8 km) north of King’s Cross, at a closing speed of approximately 196 mph (314 km/h). Both trains were class 43 High Speed Trains (HSTs).
The side of train 1A16 suffered significant damage, although the passenger compartment was not penetrated. All doors and windows remained intact. A number of passengers and crew were shaken and one passenger reported suffering a minor eye injury as a result of glass-fibre particles entering a vestibule through a part open window.
The RAIB investigation identified that the luggage van door was pulled off mountings by aerodynamic forces as the two trains passed, the door had been put into service with a faulty component and for other undetermined reasons was unlocked.
The investigation also established that there was no procedure in place to inform maintenance staff how to deal with a luggage van door that they could not repair.
The operator of both trains, National Express East Coast, did not appreciate the risk associated with HST luggage van doors, in part because the lessons of previous incidents were not incorporated into current processes. This situation arose as part of a general loss of awareness of the criticality of set-up and maintenance of luggage van doors within the industry.
As a consequence of this incident, RAIB has made five recommendations addressed to National Express East Coast, and other operators and owners of trains with the type of door involved in the incident. These are relate to:
- luggage van door set-up and maintenance
- procedures for monitoring the frequency of luggage van doors being found open in traffic and the need to corrective action
- procedures relating to what safety precautions should be put in place before a train can enter service with defective equipment.
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.