During the evening of 19 December 2009, a wheelchair user suffered a near-miss with a train on Victory level crossing, near Taunton in Somerset. One of the front wheels of his wheelchair became embedded in an area of ballast at the edge of the crossing, with part of the wheelchair obstructing the down line.
Shortly after this happened, a train approached on the down line and the wheelchair user was forced to pull himself out of the wheelchair, which was subsequently struck by the train. The wheelchair user suffered minor injuries in the incident.
The immediate cause was that one of the front wheels of the wheelchair became stuck in an area of ballast in the south-west corner of the crossing.
The causal factors were: the non-application of asphalt to the full length of the south side of the crossing during the renewal work and that this uneven interface was not identified during a number of crossing inspections and risk assessments; it was dark at the time of the incident, which made it difficult for the wheelchair user to see the area of ballast in the corner of the crossing; and the skewed angle between the railway and the road, meant the wheelchair user was not able to follow a straight path at the side of the level crossing
RAIB has made four recommendations to Network Rail concerning level crossing surfaces, level crossing inspections, minimising the hazards to users of small-wheeled vehicles on level crossings and the management of safety-related work at level crossings.
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.