Call for safety improvements at rail crossing near Peterborough after train was in collision with a tractor

The freight train after the collision with agricultural equipment at Kisby.The freight train after the collision with agricultural equipment at Kisby.
The freight train after the collision with agricultural equipment at Kisby.
Accident caused disruption to services for four days

A rail accident investigator has called for safety improvements after a freight train travelling at 66mph collided with an agricultural vehicle that had straddled the line at a crossing between Whittlesey and March.

The demand comes from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) which has just released a new report into the collision which occurred at 9am on August 19 last year at a user worked level crossing at Kisby.

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The accident left the driver of the train, which had been pulling 36 container wagons, with minor injuries and the tractor driver uninjured.

It says the accident happened because the tractor driver did not telephone the signaller to seek permission to cross the railway line.

But it says this was as a result of the tractor driver not being briefed about the requirement to call the signaller and his belief that he could cross safely by looking for approaching trains.

It states: “This probably arose because the authorised user, the person owning land on both sides of the level crossing, was not briefing crossing users in a way which resulted in correct use of the crossing, and railway staff were unaware that this was the case until shortly before the accident.

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It adds: “RAIB found that Network Rail was not effectively managing the safe use of Kisby, and some other user worked crossings with telephones, and that this was an underlying factor for the accident.”

Now the RAIB has made two recommendations with one addressed to Network Rail and the other to the Health and Safety Executive.

It states: “These seek improvements in the management and assurance processes applied to user worked crossings and an additional means of communicating crossing safety information to agricultural workers.

"RAIB has also written to several organisations representing farmers asking that they remind their members of the importance of following correct procedures at user worked crossings.”

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The report states: “There is no evidence that the way the train was driven had any effect on the accident.”

The collision caused disruption to train services on both sides of the line for four days while damage to the railway was repaired.

The report also states that the train – the 04:10 hrs freight service from Hams Hall (Birmingham) to Felixstowe – had been travelling at about 66mph when it struck the machinery.

It reveals that the leading axle of the locomotive and the 16th wagon in the train derailed.

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The locomotive, three wagons, level crossing equipment, signalling equipment and around 780 metres of track were damaged.

The agricultural machinery, known as a bale chaser and used to collect and transport straw, was being towed behind a tractor.

The report states that the John Deere tractor, which weighed 7.7 tonnes, was not damaged in the accident, while the bale chaser, which had been fully loaded and weighed 13.5 tonnes, was damaged beyond repair.

Network Rail has been approached for a response.