October 17, 2011 | Mark Paradies

Press Release from the UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch: Investigation into a safety incident involving a track maintenance trolley near Haslemere station on 10 September 2011

The RAIB is carrying out an investigation into an incident which occurred between Haslemere and Witley stations on the morning of Saturday 10 September 2011.  The incident involved a trolley which was being used by a gang from Network Rail’s track maintenance depot at Havant, to transport tools and equipment within an engineer’s possession.

The loaded trolley was left standing on a gradient of 1 in 80 (1.25%) shortly before 03:00 hrs.  When it was moved, the brakes did not re-apply automatically, and the trolley ran unattended for a distance of nearly three miles in the wrong direction towards Witley station, before it reached an uphill gradient and stopped.

Another gang had been carrying out grinding operations close to Witley station, and had moved off the track shortly before the trolley ran past their site of work.

The incident was not initially reported to Network Rail’s management and the trolley was returned to an equipment store, and was subsequently serviced by one of Network Rail’s suppliers.  A later examination of the trolley by the RAIB, Network Rail and the manufacturer identified deficiencies in the design and condition of the trolley.  Network Rail has since arranged for all trolleys of this design to be withdrawn from use, and the manufacturer has confirmed that no trolleys of this design have been supplied for use on any other railway system.

The RAIB’s investigation will include an examination of the design of the trolley braking system, the effectiveness of the safety approval processes and the maintenance regime.  It will also consider the roles of the key parties involved in the incident, the arrangements for testing of trolley brakes before commencement of work and the competence of staff involved in operating and maintaining the trolley.

The RAIB’s investigation is independent of any investigations by the 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.

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