At about 01:40 hrs on Friday 8 June 2018, a road-rail vehicle (RRV) ran away while being on-tracked at a road-rail access point south of Bradford Interchange station. The RRV ran downhill for approximately 340 metres, before coming to a stop as the track levelled out in the station. The RRV’s machine operator and machine controller were able to run along with it and warned a member of track maintenance staff, who was able to move clear in time.
The RRV ran away because its rail wheels were, incorrectly, partially deployed and because the rail wheel braking system had not been correctly maintained.
Partial deployment of the rail wheels was a result of the machine operator not following the standard industry procedure for on- and off-tracking. He had routinely been on- and off-tracking in this manner and this had not been detected by his employer, Readypower.
The braking system on the rail wheels had not been correctly maintained because fitters were not following the original equipment manufacturer’s instructions and Readypower had not detected this.
An underlying factor was that the industry’s competence management system for machine operators focuses on the renewal of qualifications, rather than demonstrating ongoing competence.
The RAIB has made three recommendations. The first one seeks to improve the industry’s competence management system for all machine operators who work on Network Rail’s infrastructure. The second, addressed to Readypower, is intended to improve the management of competence of its staff. The last recommendation aims to improve the quality of the maintenance instructions and training provided to Readypower’s fitters.