Collision between an articulated tanker and a passenger train at Sewage Works Lane user worked crossing near Sudbury, Suffolk

Report name:
110811_R142011_Sewage_Works_Lane
Incident date:
17 August 2010
Category:
Heavy Rail
Summary:

At approximately 17:35 hrs on 17 August 2010, train 2T27, the 17:31 hrs service from Sudbury to Marks Tey, collided with a loaded 44 tonne articulated road tanker on Sewage Works Lane user worked crossing (UWC) near Sudbury in Suffolk. The collision caused the train to derail. Several passengers and the conductor on the train were injured in the collision; four passengers and the train driver were seriously injured.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch’s (RAIB) investigation has found that the driver of the road tanker did not use the telephone provided before driving onto the crossing, although it was a requirement to do so.

The company employing the road tanker driver had not been briefed by Anglian Water (to whom they were contracted) on how their staff could use Sewage Works Lane UWC safely.

The investigation also found that the long waiting times that road vehicle drivers sometimes experienced before being given permission to use the crossing at Sewage Works Lane led to a high level of non-compliance with the correct procedures for its use. Network Rail’s processes relating to misuse at user worked crossings did not identify this issue and Network Rail’s procedures for responding to misuse and near-miss incidents on user worked crossings were unclear and sometimes not complied with. Network Rail’s data gathering exercises at Sewage Works Lane UWC (for the purposes of risk assessment) were characterised by errors and omissions and the amount of time devoted by Network Rail staff to analysing the results from the risk assessments and considering possible risk mitigation measures was limited. No single person or team in Network Rail had a complete understanding of the risk at Sewage Works Lane UWC.

The RAIB’s investigation has also found that the design of the tables in the type of train involved at Sewage Works Lane may have exacerbated the consequences of the accident and that the signage at Sewage Works Lane UWC presented information in an unclear manner.

The RAIB has made six recommendations, covering the following areas:

  • improving safety at Sewage Works Lane UWC;
  • reminders to business users at user worked crossings of their responsibility to brief contractors on how to use such crossings safely;
  • Network Rail’s management of risk at crossings where there are long waiting times for road users;
  • improvements in Network Rail’s processes for gathering information at user worked crossings;
  • changes to Network Rail’s overall approach to the management of risk at level crossings; and
  • a review of the crashworthiness performance of the tables in the type of train involved in the accident.

The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has implemented research into signs at private railway crossings, thus obviating the need for the RAIB to make a recommendation to address this issue.

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