Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Safety Failures Led to Fatal Rail Crash; Network Rail's Shortcomings Outlined in Report

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Safety Failures Led to Fatal Rail Crash; Network Rail's Shortcomings Outlined in Report

Article excerpt

Byline: Peter Woodman

ACATALOGUE of Network Rail (NR) safety management shortcomings were exposed yesterday in a final report into last year's Cumbria rail crash.

A planned inspection that "should have detected" the faulty set of points which caused the February 2007 derailment at Grayrigg was not carried out, the report from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch said.

After the crash, in which 84-year-old passenger Margaret Masson died and nearly 90 people were injured, the track section manager said he had forgotten he had agreed to include the area of the faulty points in his inspection.

Also, records were incorrectly updated to record that the part of the inspection which would have included the faulty points - at Lambrigg near Grayrigg - had been completed.

The report said the crash, on a Virgin London to Glasgow high-speed train had occurred after the train, travelling at 95mph, had gone over a set of points in an unsafe state after a combination of failures of the points' three stretcher bars, the lock stretcher bar and their fastenings.

The RAIB said NR:

Did not fully understood the design, maintenance and inspection of the type of points in use at Lambrigg;

Reckoned the risk associated with these points was low;

Carried out little or no investigation of loose or missing fasteners on points;

Had maintenance instructions that did not specify how the stretcher bar fasteners on points found in need of tightening should be tightened;

Did not have any comprehensive data about the condition of stretcher bars, brackets and fasteners across its network at the time of the accidents;

Did not apply as a priority a recommendation made after the 2002 Potters Bar accident; Had staff who sometimes worked 55-60 hour weeks.

The report also said: "There were a number of shortcomings in NR's safety management arrangements which were underlying factors in this accident. …

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