February 3, 2012 | Mark Paradies

Press Release by the UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch: Investigation into an incident involving the overhead line near Littleport, Cambridgeshire on 5 January 2012


At about 07:19 hrs on Thursday 5 January 2011, two windows in the passenger compartment of train 1T53, the 06:51 hrs service from Kings Lynn to London Kings Cross, were broken when part of the train’s equipment fell from the roof about 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Littleport, Cambridgeshire.  The equipment, a pantograph assembly mounted on top of the carriage which is used to collect electricity from overhead lines, became detached after hitting one of the structures which support the overhead lines.  Two passengers were injured, and there was some damage to both the train and the overhead line equipment.

The RAIB’s preliminary examination has found that the accident occurred because the head of the pantograph lost contact with the overhead line when travelling at a speed of about 80 mph (128 km/h) through an area where high winds were blowing across the railway.  The train brakes were applied and the driver brought the train to a controlled stop in a distance of about 1.5 miles (2.4 km), near Queen Adelaide level crossing, a location where he could obtain assistance.

 Cms Resources Littleport

Image showing damage to incident train

The RAIB’s further investigation will examine the way in which Network Rail implemented its procedure for dealing with the effect of high winds and the factors which led to the loss of contact between the pantograph and the overhead line.  It will also consider why the pantograph assembly failed in such a way that damage was caused to the windows on the side of the train.

The RAIB’s investigation is independent of any investigation by the police or safety authority (the Office of Rail Regulation).

The RAIB will publish a report or a bulletin to present the findings of this investigation. This will be available on the RAIB website.

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