Steam Railway (UK) - - NEWS FOCUS -

The Rail Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Branch has re­leased its safety di­gest into an in­ci­dent at the Avon Val­ley Rail­way, in which two car­riages ran away and col­lided with a set of level cross­ing gates.

The run­away oc­curred on July 25 dur­ing shunt­ing op­er­a­tions at Bit­ton (SR484) af­ter a diesel shunter and a coach had been de­tached from two other Mk 1 coaches sta­bled in the plat­form loop in or­der to re-form the train for the next day’s ser­vices. The coaches ran away down the gra­di­ent for ap­prox­i­mately 44 yards be­fore the lead­ing coach hit a level cross­ing gate which forms part of the Bris­tol & Bath rail­way path, “bend­ing it and push­ing it open one third of the width of the cross­ing,” states the RAIB in its re­port.

“The rail­way path was busy at the time of the ac­ci­dent, and CCTV ev­i­dence shows that two cy­clists and one pedes­trian passed over it in the 20 sec­onds be­fore the coaches struck the gate.”

Ac­cord­ing to the RAIB re­port, the chocks used to pre­vent the coaches mov­ing dur­ing the shunt were not the cor­rect pro­file for the wheels, no phys­i­cal check had been done to en­sure the chocks would pre­vent the coaches mov­ing, and when the coaches be­gan to move, one chock was pushed aside, while the other was de­stroyed.

The AVR has re­viewed its op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures. The RAIB re­port states: “One of the rec­om­men­da­tions from the AVR’s own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into this ac­ci­dent was that prior to di­vid­ing rakes, the vac­uum should be cre­ated and then de­stroyed to cre­ate an au­to­matic brake, re­mov­ing the re­liance on the chocks and pre­vent­ing any un­in­tended move­ment.”

The ac­ci­dent echoes a sim­i­lar in­ci­dent on the East Lan­cashire Rail­way in March (SR479), in which an un­braked trol­ley, loaded with bal­last, over­came its im­pro­vised scotches and ran away into a set of level cross­ing gates near Rams­bot­tom sta­tion. The RAIB is still in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

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