Welshpool, United Kingdom: RAIB launches investigation into collision

5 Aug

The (Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is investigating a collision between a train and a tractor and trailer at Buttington Hall user-worked level crossing near Welshpool on July 16th, 2013.

At approximately 11.45 a four car passenger train collided with a tractor and trailer that was crossing the railway in front of it. There were 140 passengers and three crew members on the train. Two passengers were taken to hospital for treatment of minor injuries. Two agricultural workers who were standing close to the collision, and the tractor driver, were slightly injured by flying debris.

Buttington Hall crossing is situated on the ‘Mid Wales’ line, approximately 17 miles from Shrewsbury and 2 miles from Welshpool. The crossing is a private crossing that provides access to fields on the opposite side of the railway to the farm buildings. The crossing is provided with gates, which must be operated by the crossing user, and telephones which connect to the signalling centre at Machynlleth. There are signs at the crossing, in both English and Welsh languages, which instruct the user to call the signaller before crossing the line with vehicles or animals.

At the time of the accident a number of tractors and trailers were involved in transporting silage across the railway. The harvesting operation had been contracted by the farmer to an agricultural contractor who had appointed an attendant to stand at the crossing. The task of the attendant was to use the crossing telephone to call the signaller for permission for tractors to cross the line, and then allow the tractor drivers to cross.

The RAIB’s preliminary examination found that the system of work that had been established for the crossing had broken down such that two tractors started to cross the line without the signaller’s permission. The first had crossed and the second was crossing when the train arrived and collided with its trailer.

The RAIB’s investigation will examine:
• The sequence of events leading up to the accident;
• The system of work implemented by the farmer and his contractor at the crossing, including the role of the attendant that was appointed;
• Network Rail’s communications with the authorised users of the crossing; and
• Other relevant accidents and incidents and any recommendations arising from them.

The RAIB will publish its findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of its investigation. This report will be available on the RAIB website.

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