Press Release from the UK RAIB: Investigation into Electrical Fault and Fire on a Metro Train near South Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, 8 January 2013
The UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch is investigating an incident which occurred between South Gosforth and Longbenton stations on the Tyne and Wear Metro system on Tuesday 8 January 2013.
At 14:08 hrs a two-car Metro train left South Gosforth station on its way from South Shields to St James. A few seconds after it left the station, an electrical fault caused severe arcing in underfloor equipment and a fire developed underneath the rear car. The train stopped, and a short time later the overhead contact wire parted and fell on the roof of the rear car. The arcing which had caused the fire ceased after about 45 seconds, but not before a large amount of smoke had entered the rear car. There were about 45 passengers in this vehicle, and they used emergency release handles to open the doors and were then able to get out onto the side of the track, from where Metro staff escorted them to a place of safety nearby. The emergency services attended and damped-down the smouldering train. No-one was hurt in the incident, and there was no significant damage to the interior of the train.
The RAIB’s investigation will examine the sequence of events before and during the incident. It will consider in particular the nature of the original fault, the reasons why the arc persisted for so long, the use of the emergency door release equipment (which some passengers found difficult to operate), and the management of communications during the incident. It will also review the history and maintenance of the systems used on the Metro to protect against electrical faults in the power supply and on trains.
The RAIB’s investigation is independent of any investigation by the safety authority (the Office of Railway Regulation).
The RAIB will publish its findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of its investigation. This report will be available on the RAIB website.