GWR Class 800 struck unlit hand trolley at 123mph

A train that smashed into an abandoned hand trolley at 123mph should not have travelled so fast to a station following the impact, according to crash investigators. 

The 48kg trolley had been left on the track by a maintenance team. The Great Western Railway Class 800 train dragged the trolley beneath it for a mile from the site of a former station at Challow (near Grove in Oxfordshire) on October 21 last year. 

It was the first service allowed through after overnight work, and hit the trolley just after 0600. Neither of the two experienced workers in Network Rail’s Didcot-based welding and grinding team had noticed the trolley, and left it behind. 

Nobody was injured, but the train was damaged and withdrawn from service at Swindon. 

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch found the train was driven at 85mph. But given the damage, it should not have exceeded 40mph. 

The trolley handle had become lodged beneath the train, causing damage to the underframe. There was minor damage to the track. 

Network Rail and Hitachi engineers inspected the train and allowed it to continue to Swindon, where passengers disembarked just under three hours after the incident. The train was then moved to North Pole depot in west London. 

RAIB Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents Andrew Hall said: “Systems and processes designed to detect any equipment left on the track before lines reopen after maintenance work should not be reliant solely on human performance in the middle of a dark night.”

“It is a concern that hand trolleys were routinely being used on the track at night without displaying red lights. But it is of equal concern that no activity to monitor this requirement was being undertaken.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We can never afford to be complacent when it comes to the safety of our passengers, colleagues and the general public. Thankfully, no one was injured, but this incident should never have happened.”

To read the full story, see RAIL 969. Alternatively subscribe for digital access 

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