During track renewal work on the East Coast Main Line immediately north of Stevenage on 7 December 2008, the two centre, fast lines were closed to traffic while the outer, slow lines remained open. After darkness had fallen, a track worker, who was standing between the up fast and up slow lines while a rail was being positioned on the up fast line, came into contact with a slow moving train on the up slow line. He sustained severe bruising to his back and damage to his vertebrae.
The immediate cause of the accident was that the trackworker moved out of his position of safety to a point where he came into contact with the train.
This happened because:
- the edge of the zone in which the trackworker was working was not correctly defined
- the work planning had not identified the hazards and Safe Systems of Work in sufficient detail
- appropriate protection of staff was not provided
- the use of rail transposition machinery caused the system of work set up to become unsuitable
- there was insufficient liaison between staff managing the site
- the passing train obscured the temporary lighting rendering the work site unlit.
As a consequence of this accident, RAIB has made six recommendations targeted at Jarvis Rail, the main contractor, and Network Rail. These cover:
- management systems for planning systems of work, and associated site documentation
- the assessment and mitigation of risk associated with rail transposing machinery
- clear communications at work sites
- the installation of fences next to tracks open to traffic
- the provision of lighting which can be installed adjacent to lines open to traffic
- the use of rail transposing plant in close proximity to lines that are open to traffic.
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.