Runaway truck on Scottish rail track
A WAGON similar to the one which killed four workers in Cumbria earlier this month sped out of control for ten miles in an incident in Scotland, Network Rail confirmed yesterday.
The wagon broke free after its couplings failed during maintenance work on the Stirling-Perth line three years ago.
No-one was injured in the accident, but the vehicle ran from Auchterarder to Forteviot before coming to a stop.
The Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said last night it would be checking an investigation report into the incident to ensure the findings had been fully implemented.
The union has called on its members to refuse to use rail trailers like the one involved in the fatal accident at Tebay in Cumbria 12 days ago. A wagon carrying old rails ploughed into a group of workers on the Glasgow-London line after running out of control for four miles.
British Transport Police said last week the trailer’s brakes had not been working, and Network Rail confirmed its wheels had been secured by pieces of wood.
The firm, which is responsible for rail tracks, said poor maintenance had caused the Perthshire incident in 2001.
An investigation found that a steel pin securing the wagon’s coupling to a powered railroad vehicle had given way.
This had in turn split the wagon’s brake pipes, which caused its automatic braking system to fail.
The incident happened at 12:40am on 3 January, 2001, during overnight work on the line by First Engineering, the principal contractor in Scotland to Railtrack, Network Rail’s predecessor.
The wagon was hired by First Engineering from Caledonian Heritable, part of Midlothian-based Caledonian Industrial.
The wagon, which was loaded with rubble, ran eastbound along the line, which was closed to trains at the time. A Railtrack inquiry recommended that First Engineering "undertake an audit and close examination" of Caledonian Heritable and "take any corrective action". Another recommendation involved the training of First Engineering staff in checks and procedures.
A spokesman for Network Rail said all the recommendations were implemented by July 2001.
The incident only came to light after a confidential Network Rail report into another runaway wagon accident was leaked to the media last week.
However, the report, into a runaway at Culgaith on the Settle-Carlisle line last year, a few miles from Tebay, referred only to an incident "in Scotland".
It stated: "It was reported that a road rail trailer had run away for ten miles. Unfortunately, the [Culgaith] investigation team had not been successful in tracing an investigation report on this incident, therefore could not establish the circumstances of the incident or the make of the trailer involved."
The report also referred briefly to another incident, at Patchway near Bristol, in December 2002, in which a trailer ran away and collided with other rail equipment.
Phil McGarry, the RMT’s Scottish regional organiser, said he was unaware of the Perthshire incident, but he would now check the records.
He said: "If there was a recommended action plan following the investigation, I would presume it would have been followed through to its conclusion.
"We have advised our members not to touch trailers similar to the one in the Tebay accident until we have had the full results of the inquiry."
Network Rail said such vehicles would be reintroduced on to the network with stringent new safeguards. Its spokesman said the Tebay, Culgaith and Patchway accidents had been the only runaway wagon incidents since the one at Auchterarder.
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