RAIB orders Hitachi to assess IEP crashworthiness after depot accident
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has ordered Hitachi to revisit the assessment of its Class 80x trains against the requirements of the crashworthiness standard.
It follows the publication of RAIB’s report into a shunting accident at Neville Hill depot on November 13 2019, when LNER 800109 collided with LNER 43300 and derailed ( RAIL 893).
The ‘800’ was derailed and both trains suffered structural damage (the ‘43’ was subsequently written off). Nobody was injured.
RAIB also recommends that
LNER assesses the risk of an ‘80x’ involved in a low-speed collision, while RSSB (formerly the Rail
Safety and Standards Board) must consider whether it is appropriate for the crashworthiness standard to be modified.
RAIB concluded that there is a risk of derailment when two ‘80x’ trains collide at 10mph. LNER needs to correct its understanding of the set-up of the train management system (TMS) on its Hitachi trains, and ensure that documentation provided by the train manufacturer hasn’t led to other safety issues.
The accident occurred when 800109 came to a brief stop just over one second behind the High Speed Train (which had begun to move onto the depot).
The driver of the ‘800’, knowing his train had passed the Automatic Power Changeover system (APCO) balise and keen to reinstate APCO as soon as possible, turned his attention to the TMS screen. At the same time, he realised the
HST was moving and decided to follow it. He moved his power brake controller slightly to demand a low level of tractive effort, while continuing to focus on the TMS.
Unaware that his ‘800’ had gained greater speed than intended, the driver completed reinstating APCO using the TMS touch screen, but when he looked up he realised the HST was now only a few metres away. He applied the emergency brake, but it was too late and the ‘800’ (travelling at 15mph) collided with the HST (moving at 5mph).
During the accident, the trailing bogies of the second and third vehicle and the trailing wheelset of the fourth vehicle on the
‘800’ derailed to the right in the direction of travel.
The HST and ‘800’ were on the same stretch of track, which is allowed under permissive working rules.
It was found that the driver isolated APCO in Leeds station (from where the ‘800’ had travelled) when he could not change the headcode using the TMS touch screen.
RAIB said he was unable to do this because the method he was trying to use, a method LNER believed suitable, was incorrect. LNER’s understanding of the TMS came principally from documents supplied by Hitachi in late 2017 and early 2018, as well as a tablet app replicating the behaviour of the TMS. The main source document was the train operation manual, on which LNER developed the training courses for its drivers.
RAIB also confirmed that this was the ‘800’ driver’s third unaccompanied driving turn on the class, and evidence indicated that he felt unfamiliar with the new technology. A driver with 39 years’ experience, he had also been off work for most of the previous two years having been granted compassionate leave, followed by sick leave after a major operation.
Investigations also found that the same amount of traction he applied on 800109 would have resulted in an HST reaching 7mph, instead of the 15mph the Hitachi train achieved.
A Hitachi spokesman told RAIL:
“Safety is Hitachi Rail’s top priority. We have engaged constructively with RAIB and the Notified Body, and will continue to work with relevant rail bodies to uphold the industry’s high standards.”
An LNER spokesman told RAIL:
“LNER welcomes the publication of this report by RAIB and fully accepts the findings. We are working through the actions and learning points that this report highlights and we will ensure that any lessons learned are discussed with other operators.”
A spokesman for the Office of Rail and Road said: “The train met the established standards and we did not identify any concerns about the crashworthiness of the vehicle.
“RAIB is right to identify a recommendation to assess locations where there is a particular risk of a low-speed collision, but we have not identified the need to take additional regulatory action in respect of the use of these trains.”
The ‘800’ is due back in traffic early next year.