Safety concerns raised after train sped through Peterborough junction three times over limit injuring 15

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Passengers injured – but investigation reveals incident ‘could have been much worse’

A number of safety concerns have been raised after passengers were injured when a train sped through Peterborough Railway Station nearly three times over the limit – which could have led to it overturning..

At around 10:20am on April 17 last year, the Lumo service from Newcastle to London King’s Cross, passed over three sets of points at Spital Junction at the northern approach to Peterborough station. The maximum permitted speed over the junction is initially 30 mph (48 km/h) reducing to 25 mph (40 km/h). The data recorder from the train indicated that the the speed of the train reached 76 mph (122 km/h).

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A report from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said that the speed of the train over the junction resulted in sudden sideways movements of the coaches, which led to some passengers being thrown from their seats and luggage falling from the overhead storage, with some people suffering minor injuries.

The report said: “ Although the train did not derail, and no damage was caused, post-incident analysis has indicated that the train was close to a speed that would have led to it overturning, and it was likely that some of the wheels of the vehicles lifted off the rails.”

Now the RAIB have called for action to prevent similar incidents happening in the future.

RAIB has made four recommendations. The first recommendation is for Lumo to review its processes to ensure that it effectively controls the risk of overspeeding at diverging junctions. The second recommendation asks Network Rail to identify junctions where there is a greater potential for overspeeding to occur and to work with operators to share information on the associated risks. The third recommendation asks Network Rail and train operators to consider and implement risk control measures at those junctions identified in the second recommendation. The fourth recommendation is intended to ensure that Lumo minimises the risks from falling luggage on its services.

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Andrew Hall, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents said: “The overspeeding incident at Spital junction in April 2022, led to a number of minor injuries. Some passengers were thrown from their seats and some hit by luggage falling from overhead racks. However, the outcome could have been much worse, as analysis showed the train was close to overturning. A similar event occurred at the same junction in May 2023, albeit a little slower and involving a train operated by a different train operating company.

The Lumo service travelled three times over the speed limit through the station. Photo: RAIBThe Lumo service travelled three times over the speed limit through the station. Photo: RAIB
The Lumo service travelled three times over the speed limit through the station. Photo: RAIB

“As designed, the signal protecting the junction cleared from red to green and displayed an indicator showing which way the junction was set as the train approached. The risk associated with a train then accelerating to an excessive speed over the associated diverging junction, when the driver has an expectation of taking a through route with a much higher permissible speed, had previously been illustrated when a light locomotive derailed in similar circumstances at Bletchley in February 2012. The risk associated with particular junctions and drivers, varies with infrastructure configuration and driver expectation.

“It is therefore absolutely necessary that Network Rail and train operating companies work together to mutually understand and sufficiently mitigate risks of this type at specific locations, accounting for the rolling stock and operations involved.”

A spokesperson for Lumo said: “We would like to thank the Rail Accident Investigation Branch for its report and have taken this matter extremely seriously. We have already implemented all the recommended actions that have arisen since the incident in April 2022. These include how we train our drivers and how we control and manage luggage on board our trains.

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“The report also highlights that there were a number of factors that caused the incident, and there are a now a number of important lessons for all rail operators to learn, which we fully support. A separate train operator experienced a similar incident at the same location this year, so its important that the industry heeds the advice in this report and ensures drivers are fully aware of the particular characteristics of this junction at Peterborough, and others like it. We are working closely with industry partners, including other operators and Network Rail, to play our part in this.

“We would like to apologise again to the passengers who were travelling with us on 17 April 2022. It was a distressing experience for all involved. We have cooperated fully with the RAIB and have learned the lessons to come from this. The learnings from this incident will contribute to the continued improvement of safety standards across the UK rail network.

“Passenger safety is our number one priority, and we are proud to carry over a million passengers a year between London and Edinburgh.”