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Author Topic: Two rail workers killed in collision with train, near Port Talbot - Wed 3 July 2019  (Read 1879 times)
Hafren
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« Reply #30 on: July 04, 2019, 09:16:29 pm »

Some general thoughts on the day (without going into the incident itself).

Vibe from passengers throughout, and reflected in news reports, is that GWR et al did things right. Train crew and later a GWR manager and BTP officer made frequent announcements and regularly passed through checking on passengers and ensuring there was no confusion. Some people were clearly off to special events etc (as expected on a mid-morning intercity journey) but accepted the situation. (Apart from one who had a flight to catch!) Being directly in the situation of course helps people to feel it's not just another delay, but there was a definite human touch which left people with a positive view of 'the railway' despite the huge delay. Passengers were told to claim full refund - I wonder if that includes season tickets which IIRC aren't routinely covered by GWR Delay Repay yet. However, although usually I'm claiming for a delay as soon as the journey's over, as it is part of the operator's contractual responsibility to offer compensation, I'm not entirely comfortable with claiming in these circumstances.

As reported here many times, information provision during more usual forms of disruption is variable, and quite frankly PA announcements sometimes aren't enough. Going through the train makes all the difference. Dodgy PA, outside noise, passengers talking, perhaps someone hard of hearing can all mean messages don't get through - there have been times when I've only just made out announcements about short platforms, terminating short etc because I've been anticipating them and pick out enough words to know what's being said. On this occasion there was no doubt that passengers felt as informed as they could be in a naturally confusing situation.

A huge effort from staff who were working in nasty circumstances (and would have seen a lot more than the passengers) but made clear that passenger welfare was a priority.

Journeycheck not entirely helpful e.g. confirming how many buses were booked but not really confirming the service pattern.

The evening was a bit weaker. Cardiff Central displays showed nothing useful apart from cancellations and short workings. Given that entire screens are taken up with 'special' notices about unattended luggage etc, there's plenty of room for a summary like "Passengers for Swansea and West Wales change at Bridgend for coaches". I was basically left wondering if I should go to platform and wait for an announcement, or to the replacement bus pickup point. Therefore gateline staff are left to answer this - fine at 6.30pm but they would have been bombarded earlier. Passengers from London trains also didn't seem to know if they should go to the back for buses or take local connection to Bridgend.

On arrival at Bridgend, no staff immediately visible, and a multitude of coaches - so it was a case of picking one and asking the driver. One non-stop to Swansea and another for intermediate stations (not sure how Swanline was covered). Also one to (I think) Llanelli and Carmarthen to give West Wales passengers a head start. I think the this was because I was in a flight of 3 trains, and staff only seemed to direct passengers when the next one arrived. (Maesteg stopper, then a 6 car non-stop extra, which in reality would have been stopping behind the stopper, then the GWR Carmarthen which ran as far as Bridgend.) Passengers for the west had no idea there was a separate bus for them and naturally assumed they had to join the Swansea bus, and then had to move. It's understandable that staff availability would have been limited by then. Perhaps an information board could have been put up by that point. As it turns out, those would have been the last trains affected by the blockade.

Some from the first of the 3 trains were a bit annoyed when told the bus would wait for the next trains - perhaps they didn't realise they were literally minutes apart! They'd probably have been happier not being told and wouldn't have noticed the shortish wait! People don't like to think about the big picture sometimes...!

First news reports came from passengers and highlights how much speculation goes into early reports. Rather publish quickly and be first than wait for things to be corroborated. For example I suspect the idea that 3 were hit came from a natural interpretation of the plural.

The significance of having crew on both sets in a 10 car was made very clear. Passenger actions could have been a lot less calm and manageable had they not felt such a staff presence. I wonder how it would have been on a DOO train - in fact the news not so long ago of a Networker in South London tells us it could have been much more chaotic. I suppose DOO routes are often suburban and therefore backup shouldn't be far off, but in the meantime the driver is alone, and is often the person most affected by events. On the semi-DOO type routes that have 'commercial' grade staff I wonder if they could reassure passengers with the authority that someone of 'Guard' grade has, as someone who directly deals with train safety as the bread and butter of their role. Being a 2x5 formation also meant evacuation was effectively in two stages.

Very different from the more usual fatalities, in some of the specifics and in the level of response. Naturally there was more to investigate, given that this was a 'workplace' incident rather than someone who shouldn't really have been there.

I was impressed to see a full service running out of Swansea this morning. Historically it's more or less guaranteed after disruption that the 7.59 is cancelled or (post-HST) short-formed. It looks like only the first two of the trains that end the day at Swansea ended up being blocked, and it looks like at least one ran empty to Swansea when the line reopened. (Not sure if any Cheltenhams still run empty to/from Swansea overnight in these IET days which would have contributed to the balance.)
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #31 on: July 04, 2019, 09:30:16 pm »

Thank you for posting that very constructive and detailed update, Hafren.

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William Huskisson MP was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
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« Reply #32 on: July 05, 2019, 10:38:33 am »

Hmm.  As an Administrator on this forum, I'm going to step in here.

The early reference to the wearing of ear defenders by the two sadly deceased rail track workers was unfortunate, and has led to some speculation here, and elsewhere.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch immediately sent three of their inspectors to South Wales to investigate this 'serious incident'.  To me, that means there is probably much more to this very sad event than we yet know.

May I therefore request that there be no further speculation regarding this incident, until we see the conclusions of the official RAIB investigation.

Our thoughts and commiserations are with the family and friends of the deceased.




Chris, I do not wish to add to the speculation to whether they were or wearing not wearing ear defenders.

I wish to clarify however there are certain activities undertaken by track workers that necessitate the wearing of PPE that may impede their ability to hear or see the approach of trains, there are well developed working practices in these circumstance.

As a working rail professional with over 40 years of experience and who still often finds himself working on the track this incident is very sobering and has deeply touched all college's     
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grahame
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« Reply #33 on: July 05, 2019, 08:36:07 pm »

Statement from Network Rail Media Centre

Media release dated today, 5th July.

Quote
Thursday 4 July 2019:

Andrew Haines, chief executive of Network Rail said: “Many of us are still reeling from the shock of the tragedy in South Wales yesterday when our colleagues, Gareth Delbridge and Michael Lewis died after being struck by a train. Gareth and Mike were extremely well respected and experienced members of the Port Talbot track team - together they have given over 84 years’ service to the railway and they will be missed.  Today I have been to South Wales to offer support to my colleagues, the families, as well as to the BTP and RAIB investigations. 

“We have also appointed an independent investigator who will be joined by trade unions and industry partners to form the investigation team.

“This is a heart-breaking reminder of how dangerous it can be to work on the railway and highlights to us all the importance of challenging anything that seems unsafe.”

Wednesday 3 July 2019:

Bill Kelly, route director, Network Rail Wales, said: “We are shocked and distressed to confirm that two members of our team lost their lives today in an accident involving a train. We do not know the details behind this dreadful accident and we are fully cooperating with the British Transport Police and Rail Accident Investigation Branch. Our thoughts are with the families of our colleagues and our members of staff who will be affected by this tragic loss, and we will provide all the support we can.”
« Last Edit: July 05, 2019, 10:54:41 pm by Western Pathfinder » Logged

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MarkHopwood
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« Reply #34 on: July 06, 2019, 07:14:13 am »

Thank you for positive comments about GWR colleagues on board the train who seem to have managed a challenging situation well.

We have some lessons to learn about provision of buses and how that works jointly with TfW.

Overwhelmingly, a sad day and I very much hope we can learn lessons quickly. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased and their Network Rail colleagues.
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jamestheredengine
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« Reply #35 on: July 06, 2019, 03:14:34 pm »

A few footnotes from my experience of the disruption surrounding this sad incident:

1) Given what's been said about the replacement bus operation (and quite how rammed those Bridgend/Maesteg stoppers are at the best of times), I definitely feel I made the right call in going up to Merthyr for the X75, rather than changing at Central and Bridgend. It was a very pleasant, fast ride down the Vale of Neath that could only be improved by running more than three times a day (and with steel wheels on steel rails of course).

2) No-one asked the company operating the X75 to accept rail tickets (so I had to pay £6 up front) – to be fair, I'd anticipated this would probably happen – but the railway staff were brilliant. Got a smile from the Taff Vale guard who understood exactly what I was doing. And the guys in the ticket office at Neath were their usual helpful selves and provided me with a claim form and stamped a bit of paper to point out to customer service that this was to do with the disruption.

3) Pleasantly surprised that both the Capitals United and the train half an hour later ran the following morning. Ended up on the later of the two as I worked out I probably didn't need to rush.

4) Good to see that the "do not travel; use your tickets tomorrow" advice went up – this saves so much hassle – managed to use the return half of Wednesday's First Class excess on the Thursday night (rather later than usual – 2344 from Cardiff – thanks to my reprobate colleagues abducting me to the local Wetherspoon's and force-feeding me gin and bubbly to celebrate my birthday).
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« Reply #36 on: July 09, 2019, 07:49:41 pm »

Network Rail have asked that all railway employees join Network Rail in a minute silence at 10am Wednesday 10th July as a mark of respect to our two fellow railway employees, Gareth Denbridge and Michael Lewis who both tragically lost their lives a week ago whilst working on the line at Port Talbot.

Network Rail wish to invite all to join them in observing the minutes silence for Gareth, Michael and their loved ones.

Many thanks.
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Mark Carne 26 June 2015 - "The challenges of delivering myriad improvement projects while still running a railway seven days a week were simply overwhelming".
Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #37 on: July 10, 2019, 12:39:09 am »

Overwhelmingly, a sad day and I very much hope we can learn lessons quickly. My thoughts are with the families of the deceased and their Network Rail colleagues.

Thank you for posting your personal comments here, Mark. Sad

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William Huskisson MP was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
grahame
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« Reply #38 on: July 19, 2019, 10:20:33 am »

From the Rail Accident Investigation Branch

Quote
At around 09:52 hrs on Wednesday 3 July 2019, two track workers were struck and fatally injured by a passenger train at Margam East Junction on the South Wales Main Line. A third track worker came very close to being struck. These three workers were part of a group of six staff, who were undertaking scheduled track maintenance on lines that were still open to traffic.

The train, which was travelling from Swansea to London Paddington, was approaching Margam on the up line at around 73 mph (117 km/h). Its driver saw three track workers walking away from him on the adjacent line and, beyond them, three more track workers on the line ahead of his train. He sounded the train horn and applied the emergency brakes. The track workers walking on the adjacent line became aware of the train approaching and tried to warn their colleagues as the train passed them.

The three track workers on the up line were working on a set of points, using a petrol-engined tool for loosening and tightening large nuts. Consequently, at least one of the workers was wearing ear defenders. CCTV images taken from a camera at the front of the train suggest that the workers did not become aware of the train until it was very close to them. By this time, it was travelling at around 50 mph (80 km/h).

The RAIB’s investigation will identify the sequence of events that led to the accident and consider:

* what might have influenced the actions of those on site
* the protection arrangements that were in place
* the planning of the work and the implementation of Network Rail’s standard for keeping people safe on or near the line
* any relevant underlying management or organisational factors

Putting the context in place, they add

Quote
Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry, the British Transport Police or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

We will publish our findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of our investigation. This report will be available on our website.
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« Reply #39 on: July 19, 2019, 03:09:43 pm »

From the Rail Accident Investigation Branch

Quote
At around 09:52 hrs on Wednesday 3 July 2019, two track workers were struck and fatally injured by a passenger train at Margam East Junction on the South Wales Main Line. A third track worker came very close to being struck. These three workers were part of a group of six staff, who were undertaking scheduled track maintenance on lines that were still open to traffic.

The train, which was travelling from Swansea to London Paddington, was approaching Margam on the up line at around 73 mph (117 km/h). Its driver saw three track workers walking away from him on the adjacent line and, beyond them, three more track workers on the line ahead of his train. He sounded the train horn and applied the emergency brakes. The track workers walking on the adjacent line became aware of the train approaching and tried to warn their colleagues as the train passed them.

The three track workers on the up line were working on a set of points, using a petrol-engined tool for loosening and tightening large nuts. Consequently, at least one of the workers was wearing ear defenders. CCTV images taken from a camera at the front of the train suggest that the workers did not become aware of the train until it was very close to them. By this time, it was travelling at around 50 mph (80 km/h).

The RAIB’s investigation will identify the sequence of events that led to the accident and consider:

* what might have influenced the actions of those on site
* the protection arrangements that were in place
* the planning of the work and the implementation of Network Rail’s standard for keeping people safe on or near the line
* any relevant underlying management or organisational factors

Putting the context in place, they add

Quote
Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry, the British Transport Police or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

We will publish our findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of our investigation. This report will be available on our website.

Thank you Graham, this explains the work they were involved in.

Since this tragic incident NR has mandated that a senior maintenance engineer must give approval at the work planning stage all work activities that require track workers to wear ear defenders when lines are open to traffic.  This level of approval is way way above supervisor or depot manager level 
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Mark Carne 26 June 2015 - "The challenges of delivering myriad improvement projects while still running a railway seven days a week were simply overwhelming".
bignosemac
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« Reply #40 on: July 19, 2019, 04:56:01 pm »


Since this tragic incident NR has mandated that a senior maintenance engineer must give approval at the work planning stage all work activities that require track workers to wear ear defenders when lines are open to traffic.  This level of approval is way way above supervisor or depot manager level 

It's good to know that Network Rail have quickly addressed this specific issue. Unfortunately it is shutting the stable door...
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