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Report released into a collision between train 1C84 and a tree at Lavington, Wiltshire


The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) today released its report into a collision between train 1C84 and a tree at Lavington, Wiltshire, 10 July 2010.

A full copy of the report is available here:

Summary

At around 14:09 hrs on Saturday 10 July 2010, the 13:06 hrs First Great Western service from Paddington to Penzance collided with a tree which had fallen from adjacent land at Lavington, Wiltshire.  The train was travelling at about 90 mph (145 km/h) at the time the collision occurred and the leading cab was extensively damaged.  The driver sustained hairline fractures to one wrist and one finger, but no-one else was injured.  The train was disabled by the collision and was subsequently hauled to Westbury station, arriving at 19:03 hrs.

The RAIB investigation found that:

  • the immediate cause of the accident was that the line was obstructed by a fallen tree and the driver of the train had insufficient warning of the obstruction to enable him to stop his train before the collision occurred;
  • the tree was in a dangerous condition but, as this had not been identified, no action had been taken to remove it before it fell;
  • the landowner was not conscious of the risk that trees on his land could present to the railway and had not arranged for their safety to be assessed; and
  • Network Rail’s process for inspection of lineside trees was unlikely to have identified the condition of this tree.

Although not linked to the cause of the accident on 10 July 2010, the RAIB observed that:

  • the traincrew and signallers did not reach a clear understanding when conversing about the location of the disabled train; and
  • traincrew did not have access to the contact number for the controlling signal box.

Recommendations

As a consequence of this accident, the RAIB has made three recommendations to Network Rail and one to the train operator, First Great Western.  These are concerned with:

  • the enhancement of processes for gathering intelligence about neighbouring land where there may be a higher risk of tree fall affecting the railway;
  • communications with neighbours whose land is considered to present a high risk of tree fall affecting the railway;
  • safety critical communications; and
  • policies for the use of mobile telephones by traincrew during emergencies.

Notes to editors

1. The sole purpose of RAIB investigations is to prevent future accidents and incidents and improve railway safety.  The RAIB does not establish blame, liability or carry out prosecutions.

2. The RAIB operates, as far as possible, in an open and transparent manner. While our investigations are completely independent of the railway industry, we do maintain close liaison with railway companies and if we discover matters that may affect the safety of the railway, we make sure that information about them is circulated to the right people as soon as possible, and certainly long before publication of our final report.

3. For media enquiries, please call 020 7944 3248.