What are lifeguards?
Lifeguards are metal protrusions that sit in front of the leading wheels on main line rolling stock, like a mini obstacle deflector.
As the Rail Accident Investigation Branch’s digest into the incident at Cradlehall (near Inverness) on February 25 2018 shows, they can help prevent derailments - in this case by pushing rail left on the track out of the way. Of course, had the angle of impact - or the approach speed - been different, the train involved may well have derailed.
Similarly, at Froxfield ( Wiltshire) on February 22 2015, a lorry knocked a 13-tonne bridge parapet section onto the line, where it was struck by a High Speed Train. The latter’s lifeguards appear to have been instrumental in preventing a derailment here, too.