Safety Alert_ Findings from RAIB on train hitting excavator bucket

Have you left something behind? No doubt we have all at one time or another due various reasons including being distracted or fatigued but whilst leaving your umbrella or in my case my hat on the London Underground is annoying it is hardly life threatening.

Earlier this year a passenger train from Belfast Great Victoria Street to Portadown, travelling at 57mph collided with an excavator bucket that inadvertently had been forgotten by the machine driver following overnight track maintenance works. Fortunately, there were no significant injuries to passengers on this occasion but not surprisingly the train sustained damage and the track required repairing.

The report makes interesting reading as it would appear that the lessons from previous incidents still have not been learned with respect to making sure work areas are formally inspected and are clear of obstructions before track possessions are handed back.

As a result of this incident, the contractor involved, has developed an instruction requiring site staff to formally record plant items when taken onto the railway and when the work is complete, an independent person verifies that equipment has been accounted for at the end of the shift. Northern Ireland Railways also requires such equipment is painted in bright colours to increase its visibility.

The RAIB report into this incident made two recommendations and identified three learning points.

  1. A formalised process is introduced for checking that lines are safe after engineering work is complete and before the line is reopened to regular traffic.
  2. A review is undertaken and possible modifications are made to the formalised communication arrangements used by engineering supervisors controlling access to the railway.
For the learning points and more information the report can be downloaded at