A near miss at Rowlands Castle station on December 19 2020 occurred because the Network Rail Mobile Operations Manager (MOM) involved had not arranged protection from train movements before going on the track.
That is the verdict of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), which investigated the incident in which the MOM cleared the line with only about one second to spare, after retrieving a rubbish bag while a train approached at around 60mph.
According to the RAIB report, released on September 29, the MOM and the signaller “did not have a mutual or accurate understanding about the reality of the situation”.
Underlying these causes were factors associated to the MOM’s competence, which RAIB says was not adequately managed to ensure he worked safely on the track.
The report added that local management was not functioning properly, which “probably affected the recruitment, training and ongoing monitoring of the MOM”.
Although not causal to the incident, RAIB also observed that voice communications were not recorded due to faulty equipment in the signal box. Automatic station announcements were also not providing enough warning to passengers of non-stopping trains passing through the station.
RAIB has therefore made four recommendations and identified three learning points. Three of the recommendations are for NR and concern the competency framework for MOMs and management arrangements for operational staff at local and national level.
The fourth recommendation is for South Western Railway to ensure safety-related announcements are made in a timely manner.