Report 04/2008: Fatal accident, Ruscombe Junction

Track worker fatality at Ruscombe Junction, Berkshire, 29 April 2007.


On 29 April 2007 at 11.26am, an empty stock train, 5Z71, was travelling from Old Oak Common depot to Reading depot when it struck and fatally injured a track welder at Ruscombe Junction. The accident occurred as the train passed a high-speed crossover where the welder was carrying out repair work. The two other on-site workers were unharmed and the train did not sustain any damage.

The immediate cause of the accident was that the welding team did not move to a position of safety as train 5Z71 approached, which resulted in the welder being hit by the train. There were two contributory factors which involved the decision-making of the on-site team and the train driver’s actions as he approached the track workers. The investigation also identified that an air ambulance helicopter landed on the railway lines without the proper authority.

RAIB has made seven recommendations as a result of this incident. These involve:

  • the identifying and recording of hazards and reducing the proportion of weld repairs at points and crossovers
  • research into the impact of peer pressure, group communications and dynamics on safety decision-making in site safety teams
  • the training of train drivers
  • implementing the protocol governing the landing of air ambulance helicopters at rail incidents.

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.

RAIB Recommendation response for Ruscombe Junction

Published 10 December 2014