July 17, 2011 | Mark Paradies

Press Release from the UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch: Investigation into an incident at Llanbadarn level crossing, 19 June 2011

The RAIB is carrying out an investigation into an incident which occurred at the level crossing at Llanbadarn, near Aberystwyth, Dyfed, on the railway between Aberystwyth and Machynlleth, on Sunday 19 June 2011.

At 21:52 hrs on 19 June, the late-running 21:30 hrs Aberystwyth to Machynlleth train passed over the crossing while the barriers were raised, and came to a stop with the front of the train about 40 metres beyond the crossing. There were no road vehicles or pedestrians on the crossing at the time.

Llanbadarn level crossing, which is on the A4120 Heol y Bont, is an automatic half-barrier crossing, whose operation is monitored locally (ABCL). For trains travelling from Aberystwyth towards Machynlleth, operation of the crossing is normally initiated by the driver pressing a plunger on the platform at Aberystwyth station shortly before the train is due to depart. There is a driver’s crossing indicator, positioned a short distance on the approach side of the crossing, which normally displays a flashing red light. This changes to a flashing white light when the crossing equipment has operated normally, ie the red road traffic signals are showing and the barriers have lowered. Passenger trains are permitted to pass over the crossing at 65 km/h (40 mph).

This section of the national rail network is equipped with the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS), which was commissioned in March 2011, and replaced the previous signalling system on the Cambrian lines between Shrewsbury, Aberystwyth and Pwllheli. The status of automatic level crossings is not indicated on the driver’s cab display.

The RAIB’s preliminary examination has found that the operation of the crossing had been initiated at Aberystwyth by the train driver, but that by the time the train reached it the crossing had ‘timed out’ and re-opened to road traffic.

The investigation will examine the sequence of events leading up to the incident, the risk associated with the level crossing, the history of previous incidents involving train driver error at this location, and the factors that influenced the behaviour of the driver on the approach to the crossing.

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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