Near-Miss Between a Rail Grinding Train and an Empty Passenger Train at Sileby Junction

RAIB has today released its report into a near-miss between a rail grinding train and an empty passenger train at Sileby Junction, Leicestershire, 5 May 2021


CCTV image from the rear of the train of empty coaches, showing the rail grinding train, travelling towards the junction, on the left (courtesy of East Midlands Trains)
CCTV image from the rear of the train of empty coaches, showing the rail grinding train, travelling towards the junction, on the left (courtesy of East Midlands Trains)

Summary

At about 05:29 hrs on Wednesday 5 May 2021, a train made up of machines used for reprofiling (grinding) rails passed a signal at danger (red) at Sileby Junction, between Leicester and Loughborough, resulting in a near-miss with an empty passenger train travelling in the opposite direction.


The passenger train had cleared the junction less than 10 seconds before the rail grinding train reached it.



There were no injuries or damage as a consequence, but the incident resulted in delays to several trains in the area.


The incident was caused by two factors. Firstly, the driver did not control the train’s speed to be able to stop at the signal at danger, probably due to fatigue. Secondly, although the train’s systems made an automatic emergency brake intervention, this did not stop the train before it reached a point at which it could collide with another train. A probable underlying factor was associated with the fatigue risk management processes used by the train operator.


RAIB has also made four observations which, although not linked to the cause of the incident, nevertheless had safety implications. The first observation identified that there was no system-wide risk assessment to control the risk of overruns arising from the operation of non-standard vehicles on the national rail network.


The second observation noted that the train operator did not obtain safety-critical information about the driver when he joined the company. The remaining observations relate to industry processes for managing the operational and technical response to such incidents.


Recommendations

There are two recommendations arising from this investigation. These cover fatigue risk management and managing the risks of trains with lower braking rates passing signals at danger. RAIB has also identified three learning points, addressing the use of napping as a fatigue mitigation, the importance of organisations sharing safety-critical information when employees move between companies, and railway procedures for post-incident management.


Notes to Editors

  1. The sole purpose of RAIB investigations is to prevent future accidents and incidents and improve railway safety. RAIB does not establish blame, liability or carry out prosecutions.

  2. RAIB operates, as far as possible, in an open and transparent manner. While our investigations are completely independent of the railway industry, we do maintain close liaison with railway companies and if we discover matters that may affect the safety of the railway, we make sure that information about them is circulated to the right people as soon as possible, and certainly long before publication of our final report.

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