At around 23:58 hrs on 16 January 2014, a passenger train travelling between Crewe and Shrewsbury struck a welder’s trolley that had been placed on the line at Bridgeway user worked crossing. The train was travelling at about 85 mph (137 km/h) at the point of collision and stopped in just under 0.5 miles (0.8 km). A track worker, who was on the trolley loading it with tools, jumped clear when he became aware of the approaching train a few seconds before impact. He suffered minor injuries. The train sustained significant damage to its front and to underframe equipment, including the fuel tank, and the trolley was destroyed. Neither the train driver, conductor, nor the one passenger on board the train were injured. The group of three staff involved (Controller of Site Safety (COSS), welder and track worker) were taken back to Shrewsbury depot some four hours after the accident.
The accident occurred because the trolley was placed on a line that had not been blocked to normal train operations. The Controller of Site Safety (COSS) had blocked the opposite line on the advice of the welder, who had been misled by the presentation of information in the paperwork describing the safety arrangements for the job. However, the welder later realised that the work was actually on the line that had not been blocked, but he still placed his trolley on that line believing that no train would approach because of engineering work taking place elsewhere in the area. The COSS was not directly supervising the workers when the trolley was placed on the line. Prior decisions made in work planning and resourcing, and the absence of relevant information in the paperwork about the location of the work, contributed to poor decision-making by the track workers on the night of the accident. In investigating this accident, the RAIB also observed that there were a number of deficiencies in competence management at Shrewsbury Maintenance Delivery Unit, and that welfare arrangements for the track workers in the immediate aftermath of the accident were poor.
RAIB has identified three learning points and made three recommendations, all to Network Rail. The learning points relate to competence management practices and briefings at Shrewsbury Maintenance Delivery Unit, and the importance of staff relying on their own safe systems of work rather than making assumptions about work taking place elsewhere. The recommendations focus on the presentation of information in the paperwork describing the safety arrangements for the job, factors affecting planning decisions at Shrewsbury Maintenance Delivery Unit, and Network Rail’s competence management processes for staff on secondments or returning to work from a period of absence.
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.