RAIB RELEASES DIGEST ON AVON VALLEY RUNAWAY COACH INCIDENT
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.