Near miss at Sileby Junction, Leicestershire

CCTV image from the rear of the train of empty coaches shows, on the left, the rail grinding train travelling towards the junction.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is investigating an incident that took place at around 05:29 on 5 May 2021 at Sileby Junction in Leicestershire.

A rail-grinding train, used for reprofiling rails, travelling on the Down Slow line near Sileby, passed signal LR477 at danger by about 350 metres. The signal was at danger because a train of empty coaches, travelling in the opposite direction, was crossing the down slow line ahead to move from the up fast to the up slow line.

The rail-grinding train came to a stop fouling the junction over which the train of empty coaches had passed, less than ten seconds earlier.

The RAIB’s preliminary examination found that there were no technical faults in the trains or the signalling equipment. The brakes of the rail grinding train were applied by its driver and by intervention of the train protection and warning system (TPWS), but this intervention did not stop the train within the safe overrun distance, allowing it to reach the conflict point at the junction.

The investigation will seek to identify the sequence of events which led to the incident and will also consider:

  • The management of the grinding train driver’s competence and fitness;
  • The design of the signalling on the Leicester to Loughborough section of line;
  • The effectiveness of TPWS in circumstances where train braking rates are lower than those used in calculations relating to the design of the system;
  • Any relevant underlying factors, including the rail industry’s response to RAIB’s recommendations made in previous reports involving train driver fatigue management.

The results of this investigation will be published on the RAIB website in due course.

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