Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Report of the investigation into the Chilham derailment published

Readers may recall that I was a passenger on a train that was derailed near Chilham in Kent last summer.

I tweeted a photograph from the train and blogged about the experience the next morning, with the result that my name was briefly all over the media.

This Daily Mail article is a good example, though how they discovered my age I do not know.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch report on the derailment has now been published. It says the accident took place at Godmersham, which it did, but for some reason all the reports at the time talked about Chilham.

You can download the whole report from its webpage. The summary says:
At around 21:40 hrs on Sunday 26 July 2015, a passenger train derailed after striking eight cows that had gained access to the railway at Godmersham in Kent, between Wye and Chilham stations. 
There had been a report of a cow on the railway an hour earlier, but a subsequent examination by the driver of the next passing train did not find anything. There were no further reports from other trains that passed before the accident occurred. 
The train involved in the accident was travelling at 69 mph (111 km/h) at the point of impact. There were 67 passengers on board plus three members of staff; no injuries were reported at the time of the accident. 
Because the train’s radio had ceased to work during the accident, the driver ran on foot for about three-quarters of a mile towards an oncoming train, which had been stopped by the signaller, and used its radio to report the accident. 
The accident occurred because the fence had not been maintained so as to restrain cows from breaching it, and because the railway’s response to the earlier report of a cow on the railway side of the fence was insufficient to prevent the accident. 
In addition, the absence of an obstacle deflector on the leading unit of the train made the derailment more likely.
I will admit that, as a railway enthusiast, I found being caught up in this accident a little bit exhilarating.

It wasn't until the next morning that I thought about how dangerous it could have been if we were fouling the other track and a train was coming the other way at just the wrong time. In fact someone I knew died in just such circumstances at Great Heck in 2001.

So a big thank you to the driver, whom I spoke to that evening, for his efforts to keep us safe.

1 comment:

wolfi said...

With trains human error can be deadly.

Did you read about that accident in Bavaria lately where someone pushed the wrong button(s) and allowed two trains on the same track - in different directions?

Since the line near the Alps is curvy there the drivers did not see the other train approaching at full speed until it was too late ...