Salisbury crash train ran through red light as wheels slipped on rails

A train that was involved in an accident in Salisbury passed a red signal as its wheels skidded on the rails, investigators believe.

Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) deputy chief inspector Andrew Hall said the “initial evidence” suggests that the driver applied the brakes but the train did not stop at the intersection where the accident occurred.

He continues: “The most likely cause of this was a wheel slip, almost certainly a consequence of the poor grip between the wheels and the rail.”

The driver had to be rescued from his cab and suffered injuries that the police called “life changing injuries”.

He was driving a South Western Railway train that ran into the site of a Great Western Railway service at an intersection outside the Fisherton Tunnel in Salisbury at around 6.45pm on Sunday.

Thirteen other people were hospitalized with minor injuries. The trains were traveling in the same direction, but on separate tracks, as they approached the Y-shaped junction with a total of 92 passengers.

They collided at the point where the tracks merged. Both trains derailed and drove side by side into the tunnel.

Mr. Hall said the GWR train was in front and the SWR train “had to stop at a signal”.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t stop and hit the side of the Great Western train so diagonally that both trains derailed and went into the tunnel just beyond the intersection,” he added.

Poor adhesion between train wheels and rails can be especially severe in the fall due to leaves falling from the 13 million trees near UK railroad lines. Driving over leaves creates a thin, slippery layer that has a similar effect to black ice on roads.

This makes it harder for trains to accelerate and brake effectively, leading some operators to publish special autumn timetables to allow more time to drive more carefully.

Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s Safety and Engineering Director, said, “Sunday’s accident was incredibly frightening for everyone involved and our thoughts go out to everyone who was injured or affected.

“Initial findings suggest that poor adhesion played a key role in the collision.

“It’s an issue that affects railways around the world and that we and our colleagues at rail operators are working hard on so that we can run trains safely and reliably all autumn, and why incidents like the one in Salisbury over the weekend? are incredibly rare.

“We will continue to work closely with investigators to understand what happened and what more we can do to prevent this from happening again.”

The RAIB said it had carefully examined the route and signaling in the area and had started discussions with the people involved.

Analysis of CCTV images and data recorded by the train and signaling system continues.

The first results of the RAIB investigation will be published later this week.

The disruption to services through Salisbury is expected to last at least until the end of the day on Monday 8 November.


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