Workers on the Waterloo station upgrade works were safeguarded by a “barrier” train preventing a passenger train from hitting them, it has emerged.
The passenger train that derailed at Waterloo station on Tuesday hit a “barrier train” which was in place to protect personnel carrying out upgrade works at the station.
Network Rail said it occasionally used “adjacent line open barrier trains”, to create a physical barrier between track workers and operational sections of the railway.
The track operator said it was not always possible to put this type of train in place, for example if there were not enough tracks available. But it said these barriers reduced risks to site workers while protecting the live railway from plant and machinary.
“On Tuesday, the barrier train did exactly what it was supposed to do, stopping the derailed train from encroaching on the live work-site at all, and keeping the workers safe,” said a Network Rail spokesperson. “It also meant that work at Waterloo was able to continue.
“The safety of everyone working on the railway is our top priority, and we are always looking at new and effective methods of keeping everyone safe.”
The incident occurred at 5.40am when a passenger train was pulling away from its platform at “very low speed”. No one was injured as a result of the incident.
Network Rail is currently half way through an intensive three-week series of platform alterations at the station as part of a £800M upgrade. Around 1,000 workers are working in shifts around the clock to extend platforms one to four, and modify platforms five to eight, so that longer, modern trains can use the station from December 2017.