Network Rail has been rapped over a dangerous incident in which three trains travelled across an unsupported area of track last year.
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into the incident last June in which nobody was injured. A similar incident occurred in 2012 – but no action has been taken to prevent a repeat.
Three trains passed over a dangerously unsupported section of track in Baildon, Yorkshire on 7 June 2016. Earlier that day flood water had washed away the supporting embankment.
A member of the public had noticed the washout, and reported it to the local fire and rescue service which informed Network Rail. At the same time, a train driver noticed flooding and trains were halted while Network Rail inspected the area.
But the washout was not identified because it was in a different location. Trains then started running over the track again at a normal speed of 80km/h – a second train passed over the track and a member of the public alerted the police, who then informed Network Rail.
A third train ran over the track becfore it was closed but this time the driver saw the damage and was able to reduce his speed to 60km/h, before alerting the signaller.
RAIB concluded that the “near miss incidents” occurred because reports from members of the public were not dealt with appropriately by railway controllers.
It gave three recommendations to Network Rail including measures to help prevent further washouts at Baildon, and improvements to communication between emergency responders and signallers.
“We have worked closely with the RAIB on this investigation. Safety is our top priority and we have one of the safest railways in Europe. We take safety incidents such as the one at Baildon extremely seriously and we work hard to prevent incidents like this happening,” said a Network Rail spokesperson.
“We were already making changes which are covered by the RAIB recommendations and are implementing a new training programme to help prevent an incident like this happening again.”