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Report 08/2024: Member of staff struck by a train at St Philips Marsh depot


R082024_240711_St Philips Marsh depot (PDF, 12.7 MB, 61 pages)

Summary

At about 13:03 hrs on 26 September 2023, a member of Great Western Railway (GWR) staff responsible for shunting trains at St Philips Marsh depot, Bristol, was struck by a train that was exiting the depot’s main shed building. The train was travelling at 10 mph (16 km/h) at the time of the accident. After hearing the train strike something, the driver applied the brakes and stopped the train. Others working nearby saw that the shunter was lying next to the train and went to help them. The shunter, who had sustained serious injuries, was treated by paramedics and then taken to hospital.

After exiting the main shed building via a roller shutter door, the shunter had walked into the path of a train which its driver then started to move and accelerate much quicker than the shunter expected. The shunter took this route to get to a level crossing that ran across the end of the shed building. RAIB found that the shunter did this as they wanted to check that no one was approaching the level crossing from a blind corner. The shunter regularly used the area between the main shed building and the level crossing as a walking route, so was used to being there. However, by using this route the shunter had to walk close to or foul of the train’s path. The shunter was also unaware that the train had started to move and did not realise it was catching up with them. They had expected to reach the level crossing before the train, but the train exceeded the speed limit of 5 mph (8 km/h). The driver did not observe the shunter walking ahead of the train so did not take any appropriate actions in response.

An underlying factor was that GWR had not effectively controlled the risk of a shunter being struck by a train outside of a shed building. Another underlying factor was that GWR’s assurance processes had not identified that train movements within the depot were exceeding the speed limit.

Following the accident, GWR updated its risk assessment and introduced new control measures to specifically manage the risks to staff associated with trains moving outside the main shed building. GWR also addressed the deficiencies found with its assurance processes for monitoring if drivers were complying with the speed limits on its depots.

Recommendations

As a result of the investigation, RAIB has made two recommendations. Both are addressed to GWR. The first is to review the personal track safety training and assessment it provides for shunters, so that they receive an appropriate level of information and assessment about working and walking on depots. The second is to identify the places on its depots where its staff might be required to walk foul of a train’s path when using a walking route or walkway, and then manage the risk of its staff being struck by a train in these locations.

RAIB has also identified four learning points. The first is to remind staff who work and walk on depots and in sidings of the personal track safety requirement to look out for approaching trains at least every 5 seconds when walking on the railway. The second is to remind drivers of the importance of complying with all speed limits on depots and in sidings. The third highlights the importance of drivers and shunters coming to a clear understanding about a train movement. The fourth is for staff who work in safety‑critical roles to remember to declare to their employer if they have taken any medication that might have the potential to impact on their performance.

Notes to editors

  1. The sole purpose of RAIB investigations is to prevent future accidents and incidents and improve railway safety. RAIB does not establish blame, liability or carry out prosecutions.

  2. RAIB operates, as far as possible, in an open and transparent manner. While our investigations are completely independent of the railway industry, we do maintain close liaison with railway companies and if we discover matters that may affect the safety of the railway, we make sure that information about them is circulated to the right people as soon as possible, and certainly long before publication of our final report.

  3. For media enquiries, please call 01932 440015.

Newsdate: 11 July 2024

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