October 24, 2011 | Mark Paradies

Monday Accident & Lessons Learned: Derailment in Summit Tunnel, Near Todmorden, West Yorkshire, UK

Screen Shot 2011-09-29 At 11.53.12 Am

The UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch has published a report about a train derailment in Summit Tunnel, near Todmorden, West Yorkshire, UK.

Here’s the summary from their press release:

In the early hours of 28 December 2010, a passenger train was travelling from Manchester to Leeds when it struck a large amount of ice that had fallen onto the tracks from a ventilation shaft in Summit tunnel.  All wheels of the front bogie were derailed to the left in the direction of travel causing the front driving cab of the train to strike the tunnel wall.  The train remained upright and once it had stopped, the train crew took action to protect the train and raise the alarm.  About three hours later, the passengers and train crew had been led out of the tunnel by the emergency services.  No injuries were reported, while the train suffered damage to its cab windscreen, a coupler, bodywork and underframe. There was minor damage to the track.

The ice formed as water, seeping through the lining of a ventilation shaft, froze during a long period of freezing temperatures.  This ice fell onto the track after a thaw which started on 27 December 2010.  The train, which was the first to pass through the tunnel in over three days due to the Christmas holiday period, then collided with it.  A combination of factors led to this accident:

  • the risk of ice, particularly ice falls onto the track, was not identified before the train service resumed so the train was allowed to enter Summit tunnel while running at its maximum permitted speed; and
  • the routine maintenance regime did not identify excessive ice in the tunnel and no additional inspections were carried out.

The RAIB has made five recommendations, all directed to Network Rail.

The first recommendation relates to how water in Summit tunnel is managed.

The second is about identifying those structures which are at risk from extreme weather and then checking they are safe to use after periods when no trains have been running.

The third calls for the potential hazards due to extreme weather and thaw conditions to be taken into account in Network Rail’s weather management processes.

The fourth calls for training and information to be given to staff who need to carry out the additional inspection of structures that are at risk in extreme cold weather.

The fifth relates to the management of safety related information (and details of actions taken) that is passed from Network Rail’s buildings and civils – asset management function to other parts of the company.

For the complete report and lessons learned, see:


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