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Tractor driver failing to phone signaller caused rail crash

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A tractor driver failing to phone signaller caused a rail crash in the Fens

Rail accident investigators have today released their report into a collision between a train and agricultural equipment at Kisby user worked crossing, Cambridgeshire, 19 August 2021.

At around 09:00 hrs on Thursday 19 August 2021, the 04:10 hrs freight train service from Hams Hall (Birmingham) to Felixstowe collided with agricultural machinery being towed over the railway by a tractor at Kisby user worked crossing, between Whittlesey and March in Cambridgeshire.

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The train was travelling at about 66 mph (106 km/h) when it struck the machinery.

The train driver suffered minor injuries in the accident and the tractor driver was uninjured. The locomotive and one wagon derailed, with both suffering some damage.

There was also extensive damage to the infrastructure of the railway.

The Rail Accident Investigation Board (RAIB) says the accident happened because the tractor driver did not telephone the signaller before crossing the railway to seek permission to cross.

This was a consequence of the tractor driver not being briefed about the requirement to call the signaller and his belief that he could cross safely by looking for approaching trains.

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This probably arose because the authorised user, the person owning land on both sides of the level crossing, was not briefing crossing users in a way which resulted in correct use of the crossing, and railway staff were unaware that this was the case until shortly before the accident.

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

Recommendations

RAIB has made two recommendations, one addressed to Network Rail and one addressed to the Health and Safety Executive, as a result of its investigation.

These seek improvements in the management and assurance processes applied to user worked crossings and an additional means of communicating crossing safety information to agricultural workers.

RAIB has also written to several organisations representing farmers asking that they remind their members of the importance of following correct procedures at user worked crossings.

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