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RAIB Report: Collision between a train and agricultural equipment at Kisby user worked crossing

Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released a report into a collision between a freight train and agricultural equipment at Kisby user worked crossing, Cambridgeshire.

The incident, which took place on Thursday 19 August 2021, saw a freight train travelling from Hams Hall (Birmingham) to Felixstowe collide with agricultural machinery that was being towed over the railway by a tractor. The train was travelling at around 66 mph when it collided with the machinery.

The collision took place at Kisby user worked crossing, between Whittlesey and March in Cambridgeshire. The train driver suffered minor injuries; however the tractor driver was uninjured. The locomotive and one wagon derailed, and both suffered damage, and there was extensive damage to the infrastructure.

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Causes

It is understood that the accident happened because the tractor driver failed to telephone the signaller before crossing the railway, seeking permission to cross. The tractor driver had not been briefed of the need to call the signaller, and he believed he was able to cross safely by looking for approaching trains.

It is likely that the authorised user (the person who owned the land on either side of the level crossing) did not brief crossing users in the correct use of the crossing, a fact that railway staff were unaware of until shortly before the incident.

RAIB also found that Network Rail was not effectively managing the safe use of Kisby user worked crossing, and some other user worked crossings with telephones, and this was also found to be an underlying factor for the incident.

Recommendations

RAIB has made two recommendations following the incident, to Network Rail and the Health and Safety Executive.

The recommendations seek improvements to be made in the management and assurance processes applied to user managed crossings, and an additional means of communicating crossing safety information to agricultural workers.

RAIB has also made contact with several organisations representing the farming community, requesting that they remind their members of the importance of following correct procedures at level crossings.

Image credit: RAIB

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