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Workers were seconds from death after rail site blunders, investigation finds

Near miss on the line close to South Hampstead train station probed by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch

20 December, 2018 — By Tom Foot

South Hampstead train station [Pic: Oxyman]

TWO railwaymen escaped certain death by two seconds when, as the result of a blunder by safety supervisors, a mainline train hurtled through tracks they were working on.

The workers “narrowly avoided being struck by a passenger train” at South Hampstead station shortly after midnight in March, according to a probe by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

The men were part of a group of 22 workers load­ing trolleys onto tracks just below the entrance to the station in Loudoun Road. Safety supervisors had wrongly told the group the line they were on was closed, but they were on the wrong side and in the path of fast trains coming into Eust­on from Birmingham.

The RAIB report said the men escaped with their lives when colleagues 100 metres away realised the problem and began shouting at them, and the train’s driver sounded its horn.

It added: “The members of the work group involved were badly shaken and upset by the incident. One member of the group injured his ankle when he jumped clear of the approaching train. He was taken to hospital…”

The near-miss was captured on CCTV, according to the report. RAIB said that new signals were being installed on the railway approach to Euston station and that Network Rail had contractors providing staff. An agency had also been hired to provide three safety supervisors, the report said, but a safety plan did not properly filter down to the workers on the tracks.

They entered the station through the wrong entrance. One of the supervisors refused to listen to concerns that he was wrong about which track the workers should be on, the investigation said.

The report added: “The supervisor was adamant that he was correct, and the exchange became heated.” There were echoes of a similar 2008 collision between a passenger train and “two rail-mounted grinding machines” in Acton West, the report said.

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