Press Release from the UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch: Investigation into a collision between a train and a road vehicle at Stowmarket, Suffolk, 30 November 2011
At 19:41 hrs on Wednesday 30 November 2011, train 2W29, the 18:43 hrs service from Cambridge to Ipswich, struck a car that was lying foul of the up main line near Old Newton, Suffolk, about 1 mile north of Stowmarket station.
The collision occurred when the train was travelling at about 55 mph (89 km/h). The train did not derail and incurred only minor damage. None of the people onboard suffered injuries.
The RAIB’s preliminary examination has found that the car was being driven north on the B1113 Stowmarket Road when it left the carriageway. The car then passed through the wire fence marking the railway boundary and over a low earth bund, before coming to a rest on the up main line.
The car driver suffered minor injuries as a result of this accident but was able to leave his vehicle and to telephone the emergency services. However, before this call was completed, train 2W29 approached on the up main line (heading south) and struck the car. Although the train driver had applied the brakes as soon as he became aware of the obstruction on the track, he was unable to stop the train in time to avoid a collision.
At this location the B1113 approaches to close to the railway line before curving away again into a right-hand corner. The railway line at this location is a double track line with a maximum permitted speed of 100 mph (165 km/h). Where it is considered credible that there may be an incursion of road vehicles at such locations, the risk to the railway is required to be assessed by the local highway authority and/or Network Rail.
There was a previous incident at this location in January 2010 which also resulted in a road vehicle breaching the boundary fence and approaching the railway. In this incident the car landed on its roof about three metres clear of the up main line.
The RAIB’s investigation will include a review of how the risk of road vehicle incursion at this site was assessed by both the local highway authority (Suffolk County Council) and Network Rail, and what subsequent actions, if any, were taken to control the risks relating to such incursions. The investigation will also review the current national policies and processes for the management of road incursion risk at locations of this type.
The RAIB’s investigation is independent of any investigations by the police or safety authority (the Office of Rail Regulation).
The RAIB will publish a report, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of its investigation. This report will be available on the RAIB website.