Report 20/2018: Near miss at South Hampstead

Near miss with track workers and trolleys at South Hampstead, London, 11 March 2018.



At around 00:35 hrs on 11 March 2018, a group of track workers narrowly avoided being struck by a train while placing trolleys on the track alongside South Hampstead station, north London. The train was travelling at 49 mph (79 km/h) towards London Euston station when the driver saw the group, sounded his horn and applied the brake. Three other members of the work group, who were around 100 metres away from the staff placing the trolleys on the track, saw the train seconds earlier and shouted a warning to their colleagues who managed to remove the trolleys and get clear around two seconds before the train passed. One member of the group received a minor injury and many were distressed.

The incident occurred because the track workers had placed the trolleys on a line which was still open to train movements, instead of on the intended adjacent line that was blocked. The RAIB investigation found that the safety arrangements that had been established were ineffective. The work group did not have anyone designated as the ‘Person in Charge’, an individual who has sufficient knowledge and competence, and is specifically appointed to manage all the risks associated with the work, including the danger from moving trains. There were also a number of unofficial working practices being used by the workgroup and the person asked to take charge of safety for the work group believed the open fast lines were the blocked slow lines.


As a result of its investigation the RAIB has made six recommendations to Network Rail. These relate to:

  • clarifying to staff the exact responsibilities of a ‘Person in Charge’
  • making sure that managers are aware of their responsibilities
  • improving location information that staff are provided with when working on or near the track
  • signage at the access point at South Hampstead
  • undertaking an audit of how Network Rail standard NR/L2/OHS/019 Issue 9 has been implemented across the network in order to determine how the standard has been interpreted and understood, and areas of good and bad practice
  • reviewing how the changes from issue 8 to issue 9 of NR/L2/OHS/019 were managed, in order to identify any areas for improvement in the management of change.

The RAIB has also identified one learning point; that those in charge of safety should be careful to check safety critical information when challenged by others in their team.

Published 18 December 2018