Rail drama in Halifax: Clues that were missed

Pictures taken from the rail accident report into the derailment of a passenger train near Dryclough 'Junction, Halifax
Pictures taken from the rail accident report into the derailment of a passenger train near Dryclough 'Junction, Halifax

NETWORK Rail repeatedly failed to act on cracks in a pavement – and months later a passenger train was dramatically derailed.

The findings are revealed in a report into the accident in February near Dryclough Junction, Halifax, pictured.

A two-car passenger Leeds-bound train hit rubble on the track at 30mph and came to a stop 60 yards from the initial impact.

Miraculously, eight passengers and two crew escaped injury.

Rubble had fallen from a retaining wall beside the line which had collapsed during the night.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch said Calderdale Council highways department had reported cracks in the pavement behind the wall to Network Rail on several occasions, most recently in October 2010.

Highways offices had closed the footpath has a precaution.

“The investigation found deficiencies in the examination of the wall by Network Rail’s examination contractor and in the way in which Network Rail handled reports from Calderdale Council concerning problems with the wall,” according to the report.

“The limited extent of repairs made to the wall in 2006 also contributed to its failure.”

Network Rail owned the retaining wall which was periodically examined by Amey under a Civil Examinations Framework Agreement.

The footpath and road at the top of the wall were owned by Calderdale Council.

There had been strong winds with rain during the night before the accident in darkness at 6.07 am.

The train was travelling at 30 mph round a curve when the driver noticed rocks on the line.

“He applied the emergency brake. The train struck the rocks and rode up over them, derailing the leading bogie of each vehicle to the left side,” said the report.

“The driver reported hearing several loud bangs from beneath the train as further rocks were struck.”

Passengers were transferred to another train shortly after 9 am and it was not until the following day at 5.17 pm that the line was again open for trains.

Safety recommendations from the RAIB say Network Rail should review its arrangements for controlling the implementation of minor civil engineering works and any necessary improvements should be implemented. It should also be able to identify structures whose examinations have been missed or not effectively recorded.

The RAIB purpose is to prevent future accidents and does not carry out prosecutions.