The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into the collision between a train and agricultural equipment at Kisby user-worked crossing, Cambridgeshire, on the 19th of August 2021.
At around 9am, the freight train service from Hams Hall (Birmingham) to Felixstowe collided with an agricultural implement being towed over the railway by a tractor. The train was travelling at about 66mph when the incident occurred.
The train driver suffered minor injuries, while the tractor driver was uninjured. The train and one wagon derailed and both suffered damage, and there was also extensive damage to the infrastructure of the railway.
According to the report, the accident happened because the tractor driver did not telephone the signaller for permission to cross before crossing the railway. This was due to them not being briefed about the requirement, as well as his belief that he could cross safely by looking for approaching trains.
It is likely that this arose because the authorised user – the person owing the land on both sides of the crossing – was not briefing users about the correct way to cross and that railway staff were unaware of this until shortly before the accident.
RAIB found that Network Rail was not effectively managing the safe use of Kisby, and some other user-worked crossings with telephones, which was an underlying factor for the accident.
The RAIB has made two recommendations, one addressed to Network Rail and one addressed to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), following the investigation. These seek improvements to the management and assurance processes applied to user-worked crossings.
It has also written to several organisations representing farmers, asking that they remind members of the importance of following the correct procedures.
Andrew Hall, chief inspector of rail accidents said: “Entering a railway level crossing when a train is approaching is incredibly dangerous and the accident at Kisby, although very serious, came extremely close to having a more tragic outcome.
“It is critical that any farm workers who may need to pass over a user-worked crossing are briefed on how to do so safely and that they understand the importance of following the instructions displayed next to the crossing every time it is used.”