Probe into train derailment near Eastleigh finds Network Rail failed to act after similar incidents

AN INVESTIGATION into a train derailment near Eastleigh has revealed that Network Rail had no plan to detect track failures despite previous incidents.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 1:29 pm
The derailed freight train at Eastleigh. Picture: Network Rail

The probe has been looking into the derailment of six 52-tonne wagons near Eastleigh on January 28 last year.

No one was injured in the incident, but passenger services were disrupted for weeks and rail infrastructure suffered ‘significant damage’, according to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

Cracks in fastenings designed to hold rails in place were not apparent in visual inspections before the freight train came off the tracks.

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Network Rail had not devised a plan for routine inspections to spot the issue - despite failures in similar fastenings across several locations in 2015 and 2016, the RAIB said.

The investigation found that Network Rail’s team in Eastleigh ‘was not effectively managing the maintenance of its track assets’.

An inquiry into a 2016 near-miss between a train and a worker based at the site found that tasks were being carried out later than planned and there was a backlog of work.

Prior to the derailment, the government-owned company was introducing remedial measures such as reducing the team’s area of responsibility.

But this had not resulted in a notable improvement by the time the accident happened, the RAIB said.

The report made two safety recommendations for Network Rail, regarding risk management around track fastenings and the measurement of rail spacings.

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