Investigation reveals train which collided with tractor near Peterborough was travelling at nearly 60mph

An investigation has revealed a train which collided with a tractor near Peterborough causing a derailment was travelling at nearly 60mph - despite the train driver hitting the emergency brakes six seconds before the collision.

The crash happened at the Kisby user worked level crossing, located just outside March on August 21 this year, and involved a freight train and a tractor towing a trailer.

The train driver suffered minor injuries, and both he and the tractor driver were treated for shock.

An investigation is being carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), and they have released more details about the circumstances of the incident.

The scene of the collision. Pic: Network Rail

The level crossing is not operated using an automatic system, and people wishing to cross are directed to use phones at the crossing to obtain permission to cross the tracks. The initial report from the RAIB said they had been ‘unable to find any evidence’ that a request to use the crossing was made by the tractor driver.

In their initial report, the RAIB said: “At 09:01 hrs on 19 August 2021, a freight train consisting of a class 66 locomotive and 36 container wagons struck a loaded farm trailer at Kisby user worked level crossing, situated near to March, in Cambridgeshire.

“The train driver applied the train’s emergency brake around 6 seconds before the collision occurred, but the train was still travelling at around 58 mph (93 km/h) when it struck the trailer.

“As a result of the collision, the trailer parted from the tractor that was pulling it and was then dragged along by the train. The leading axle of the locomotive and an unladen wagon in the middle of the train also derailed. The train ran derailed for around 780 metres before it came to a stop.”

The report added; “The locomotive suffered significant structural damage during the accident and level crossing and track equipment were also extensively damaged. Train services were disrupted on both lines for four days while the train was recovered and repairs were made to the track and signalling infrastructure.

“Kisby user worked crossing is fitted with a telephone and with user-operated powered (POGO) gates. These gates are not interlocked with the railway’s signalling system. Users are directed by signs at the crossing to use the telephones to obtain permission from the signaller before opening the crossing gates and crossing the railway. RAIB has been unable to find any evidence that a request to use the crossing was made by the driver of the tractor involved.”

The investigation will seek to identify the sequence of events which led to the accident, including the actions of the tractor driver and other users of the crossing. It will examine how the crossing was being managed and how the risks associated with its use were being assessed and mitigated by Network Rail.