October 6, 2011 | Mark Paradies

UK Rail Accident Investigation Branch Press Release: Investigation into a collision between a train and a tractor at Hatson's User Worked Crossing, near King's Lynn, 25 September 2011

At 10:13 hrs on Sunday 25 September 2011, train 1T60, the 10:10 hrs service from King’s Lynn, to Ely, struck a tractor on the single line at Hatson’s (also known as White House Farm) User Worked Crossing, which is located approximately two miles from King’s Lynn station.  The tractor driver sustained serious injuries in the accident and the train driver suffered from shock.  One set of wheels on the train was derailed and debris from the tractor damaged a stanchion supporting overhead line electrification equipment.  None of the 41 passengers on board the train were injured, but it took almost three hours for them to be evacuated because of concerns related to the damaged electrification equipment.

The RAIB’s preliminary examination has found that the crossing had been intensively used during the weekend of 24/25 September for the transportation of sugar beet from the fields located to the east of the crossing to a stockpile located to the west.  The crossing is not equipped with a telephone, but a sign at the crossing requires drivers of long, wide, low, heavy or slow-moving vehicles to contact the ‘crossing operator’ before using the crossing.

 Cms Resources Hatsons---Cms

Image of Hatson’s User Worked Crossing

At the time of the accident a method of work had been established that involved the tractor drivers seeking permission to cross from the signaller, by means of mobile telephone.  Despite this arrangement, an error occurred that resulted in the tractor being driven onto crossing before an approaching train had passed.

Although the train driver responded as soon as he saw the tractor start to move onto the crossing by sounding the train’s warning horn and applying the emergency brakes, there was insufficient time for the brakes to have any effect and the train struck the tractor.

The RAIB’s further investigation activities will include an examination of the method of working employed for the frequent movement of tractors and trailers over the crossing, staff competence issues and the arrangements made for evacuating people from the train.

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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