Broken rail incidents on the East Coast Main Line

The RAIB is investigating a number of rail breaks that have occurred on the East Coast Main Line. These include:

  • a vertical rail break that was discovered on a section of continuously welded rail, after a member of public had reported unusual levels of noise as trains passed over a stretch of line near Corby Glen, Lincolnshire (14 September 2012); and
  • an approximate 100mm gap due to a broken rail at an insulated block joint on the Up Main line at Copmanthorpe, near York, that was reported by the driver of a train on the adjacent line (28 November 2012).

Both of the above incidents involved sections of line traversed by trains travelling at speeds in excess of 100 mph (160 km/h).

The RAIB’s investigation will identify the sequence of events associated with each incident. It will consider the systems that were place to detect flaws in the rails and/or defective track geometry, the actions taken in response to any known defects and the steps taken to repair failures that have already been reported. The RAIB will also review:

  • the existing technology that is in place to detect potential rail breaks and how this is applied to the management of the risk;
  • the adequacy of the associated management systems; and
  • maintenance and renewals processes that are in place to minimise the risk of rail breaks.

The RAIB’s investigation is independent of any investigations by the safety authority (the Office of Rail Regulation).

The RAIB will report on its findings at the conclusion of its investigation. This will be published on the RAIB website.

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