Train passes signal at danger near Loughborough, Leicestershire

The train passed this signal south of Loughborough station, blocking a crossover and delaying a southbound train.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is investigating how a train passed a signal at danger just south of Loughborough station. The train was a brand-new four-car Bombardier Class 710, destined for London Overground, that was being moved from the test track at Old Dalby to storage in Worksop.

The incident occurred at around 10:57 on 26 March 2020. The train was northbound on the Midland main line when it passed a red signal by around 200 metres, without authority, about 0.75 miles (1.2 km) south of Loughborough station.

Signal LR507 applies to the Down Slow line and was protecting the crossover south of Loughborough station that was set for use by a southbound train calling at the bi-directional, Down Slow Platform 3. The maximum line speed on approach to the signal is 65mph (104km/h).

The train was formed of an empty four-car Class 710 unit and two Class 57 locomotives; one at each end. It was operated by Rail Operations Group (ROG). The Class 710 unit was being moved from a testing site at Old Dalby (RIDC Melton) to storage at Worksop.

Under these circumstances, the Class 710 unit does not run with operational brakes. Instead, braking is provided only by the two locomotives, which are connected by a brake pipe which is passed through the carriages of the unit.

The signal on the approach to LR507, LR503, was displaying a single yellow aspect as would be expected. The driver applied the brakes before reaching signal LR507, but the retardation was not sufficient to stop the train from the speed at which it was travelling before it passed the red signal.

There were no injuries or damage as a consequence of this incident, although the southbound passenger train that was calling at Loughborough station Platform 3 at the time of the SPAD (signal passed at danger) incurred a delay of approximately 24 minutes.

RAIB’s investigation will seek to establish the sequence of events, including where the train’s brake was applied and at what speed.

It will also seek to:

  • Understand the actions of the people involved;
  • Establish the braking capability of the train and whether it was affected by the way the train was formed, prepared and driven;
  • Review ROG’s processes for producing train timing schedules;
  • Review the industry’s processes for managing the risk of hauling un-braked units;
  • Explore ROG’s arrangements for managing driver competence and fitness and any underlying management factors;
  • Review previous similar accidents and incidents investigated by RAIB and consider the response to recommendations made following those incidents;
  • Make recommendations to prevent a recurrence.

RAIB investigations are independent of any investigation by the railway industry or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road. Its findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, will be published at the conclusion of the investigation, a process that typically takes around 10 months.

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