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Author Topic: Train fire near Llanelli - late on 26th August 2020  (Read 11188 times)
bignosemac
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« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2020, 08:39:47 pm »

And thank goodness there wasn't another train in section on the opposite line.
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« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2020, 11:05:18 pm »

...or that one passed the stricken train.
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bradshaw
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« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2020, 09:43:01 am »

Diesel oil does not burn readily, its flash point is over 100 degrees Celsius. There must have been some source of heat to ignite it, not just a spark.
When teaching I used to dip a lighted match into a bowl of diesel and it would go out. Whereas if you brought a flame close to alcohol it would ignite before reaching the liquid as it was the vapour above the liquid which burns.
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Gordon the Blue Engine
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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2020, 11:25:19 am »

As 66 004 in the photo seems to be on the wrong end of the train or on the wrong line, I presume it was sent up after the incident to rescue the undamaged wagons at the rear of the train.
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southwest
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2020, 01:41:23 pm »

Two big derailments in one month is not good, lucky the train services are reduced.
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broadgage
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« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2020, 01:50:52 pm »

Diesel oil does not burn readily, its flash point is over 100 degrees Celsius. There must have been some source of heat to ignite it, not just a spark.
When teaching I used to dip a lighted match into a bowl of diesel and it would go out. Whereas if you brought a flame close to alcohol it would ignite before reaching the liquid as it was the vapour above the liquid which burns.

Indeed, diesel fuel wont normally ignite from a spark, unless heated as well. The most likely source of ignition in this accident would be a derailed vehicle scraping along the rails or on the ballast, this  would produce frictional heating and sparks. A small amount of spilled fuel could be heated above the flashpoint and ignited by sparks.
Other sources of ignition could include damaged electric cables near the track, or the brakes on a wagon.

Diesel fuel is hard to ignite, but once ignited it burns fiercely like petrol.
After accidents of this nature, a risk is intact tanks being heated by fire and then bursting or leaking and making the fire worse.
The fire brigade are well aware of this, and give a high priority to directing water onto undamaged tanks to cool them.
This may be seen in views of the scene.
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
grahame
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« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2020, 02:16:22 pm »

Two big derailments in one month is not good, lucky the train services are reduced.

The RAIB (Rail Accident Investigation Branch) and follow ups by Network Rail have given us some clue as to what went wrong at Stonehaven, but not such indications yet for Llangennech and I would not like to bet either way as to whether there are significant similar factors, marginal similarities or the events are independent.

The Poisson distribution with a very low lambda value suggests that even if events are very rare, they will sometimes happen twice in the measured time value.  Takings Deaths by horsekick in the Prussian army as an example, you have something that is fairly rare, but will (sadly) sometimes happen twice in a month. But the crucial thing for Poisson is for the events to be independent.    If you try and use it (for example) to predict orders for your chippy, you'll find the resultant curve from the predictive model is different to what actually happens because "fish on Friday" is a tradition based on religious history and probably bolstered these days by Mum not wanting to cook at the end of a had week, so the events are not independent.

We await causal data for Llangennech and detail for Stonehaven and until we have it, we don't know if we have association or co-incidence.   But in both cases, RAIB should help us learn
* What went wrong
* How to avoid things going wrong in this way
* How to mitigate the effects if something does go wrong:
 - spotting it before it causes an accident
 - minimise the effect of an accident

It was indeed fortunate in both cases that only a single train was involved - not sure that any current reductions actually made a difference;  at Stonehaven, the train was on its way out of a problem area and nothing else would have been sent it.    And the Swansea District line and Heart of Wales are not exactly bustling at midnight!
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grahame
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« Reply #22 on: August 30, 2020, 06:40:25 pm »

From British Transport Police

Quote
Update at 5pm on Sunday 30 August:
 
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Langley from British Transport Police said: “Thanks to the efforts of our officers and our colleagues from across the emergency services in making the scene safe at Llangennech, we have been able to conduct an initial investigation into this incident.

Our initial findings are that the derailment is not believed to have been caused by criminal activity. 
 
“We are therefore handing primacy of the scene to the Office of Rail and Road so that it can carry out its own specialist investigation. 

“I would like to once again thank our officers for their efforts during this challenging incident, and I am grateful to all of our partners for their help and support in ensuring the safety of the local community.”

The question "was this due to criminal activity" needed to be asked, and asked early, but these initial findings are not a surprise.
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broadgage
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« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2020, 10:26:58 pm »

I must admit that the possibility of "criminal activity" had crossed my mind, and I am glad to hear that this has been ruled out.
Had the train been conveying aggregates or most other goods the possibility would probably not have occurred to me, but an oil cargo is higher risk IMO (in my opinion).
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A proper intercity train has a minimum of 8 coaches, gangwayed throughout, with first at one end, and a full sized buffet car between first and standard.
It has space for cycles, surfboards,luggage etc.
A 5 car DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) is not a proper inter-city train. The 5+5 and 9 car DMUs are almost as bad.
grahame
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« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2020, 07:32:10 am »

I must admit that the possibility of "criminal activity" had crossed my mind, and I am glad to hear that this has been ruled out.
Had the train been conveying aggregates or most other goods the possibility would probably not have occurred to me, but an oil cargo is higher risk IMO (in my opinion).

"Criminal Activity" covers a multitude of sins (literally).   I would agree that the extreme of an attack with terrorist elements (attempts to terrorise or fighten) would be that much more likely on a fuel train than an aggregate one (but I can think of types of train more at risk, but more protected at their yards and depots.   But criminal activities also includes the "yob" elements - the dumping of a shopping trolley on the track which could (until the BTP (British Transport Police) excluded it) have been smashed when the locomotive hit it, and thrown up a metal shard which wedged a wheel set a couple of wagons down; such would likely be a concern irrespective of the type of train.   It could also be ... but, no, I won't go  on listing things in public ...
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Worcester_Passenger
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« Reply #25 on: August 31, 2020, 10:08:06 am »

I went back and read the report on the Summit Tunnel fire (at https://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/DoT_Summit1984.pdf).

Noticeable that paragraph 33 has

"One of the theories suggested in the early stages after the incident was that material had fallen or had been dropped down one of the ventilation shafts to cause the derailment. ... There was no evidence after the fire that any of the ventilation shafts had been tampered with."

Understandable, given that this was back in 1984, with the IRA very active.
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ellendune
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« Reply #26 on: August 31, 2020, 12:16:31 pm »

I went back and read the report on the Summit Tunnel fire (at https://www.railwaysarchive.co.uk/documents/DoT_Summit1984.pdf).

Noticeable that paragraph 33 has

"One of the theories suggested in the early stages after the incident was that material had fallen or had been dropped down one of the ventilation shafts to cause the derailment. ... There was no evidence after the fire that any of the ventilation shafts had been tampered with."

Understandable, given that this was back in 1984, with the IRA very active.

Gosh that takes me back.  I was called out for that incident as the local council drainage engineer. They were reports of oil vapour getting into properties from the drainage. It was the day of our office Christmas lunch and I was the first one back in the office so I got sent out there (it was my patch as well).  The Transpennine road was closed (the only time I have had to talk my way through a police road block).

You could see flames going hundred's of feet up from the ventilation shafts on the hillside. The tunnels spanned two counties so we had GM fire service and police, at our end and West Yorks were at the other end. There was also BTP (British Transport Police) and the Railway fire service. 

At the first meeting I attended, they had started talking about whether they needed to start evacuating people from Summit village and the social services rep had just said the Town Clerk was going to attend the next meeting so I decided I need more backup. I remember being singularly unimpressed that the rep from ICI whose oil was in the train couldn't tell us what the cargo was (I simply wanted to know were we talking lighter than or heavier than air). The Accident report just mentions it was petrol and that there were hazchem signs on the wagons, but we did not know that then and the Hazchem signs were in the tunnel and no one, not even the fire service was going there for several days.

This was before mobile phones were widely available and,  radio reception as also poor. The GM fire service had managed to get BT to rig up a single phone.  But in the end we went to a local business and asked to use their phone to call for backup (I needed a DLO gang and once it was mentioned that the Town Clerk was planning to attend the Assistant Borough Engineer decided he had better come too). I also wanted the office to get a message to my wife to say I was not going to be able to meet her in Sainsburys as planned.   

Once we had a gang we went out looking for where the tunnel drainage went. We didn't know whether it went into our sewer or into the river. We found the that the river had a thick layer of oil on it and we realised eventually that there was an overflow pipe from the sewer nearby. The vapour must have been going up that pipe. One of the gang waded across the river and put a bung in the outfall.  It dawned on me years later that we probably should have got the fire service to do that as there was a risk that the petrol on the surface could catch fire!  The gang then removed all the manhole covers down the road to vent the system (no traffic as the road was closed) and we were able to leave. I got home just in time to see it on the channel 4 news. 
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« Reply #27 on: August 31, 2020, 06:44:15 pm »

As 66 004 in the photo seems to be on the wrong end of the train or on the wrong line, I presume it was sent up after the incident to rescue the undamaged wagons at the rear of the train.

The Class 66 was used to move the undamaged wagons from the rear of the train (as you suggest). The train engine was a Class 60 which I believe was used to move the few undamaged wagons from the front. Brave driver to uncouple as well as carry out all the protection duties required.
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bobm
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« Reply #28 on: August 31, 2020, 07:17:33 pm »

Apparently the fire service were briefed on site about how to couple and uncouple the wagons which I thought was unusual.
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stuving
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« Reply #29 on: August 31, 2020, 07:58:44 pm »

As 66 004 in the photo seems to be on the wrong end of the train or on the wrong line, I presume it was sent up after the incident to rescue the undamaged wagons at the rear of the train.

The Class 66 was used to move the undamaged wagons from the rear of the train (as you suggest). The train engine was a Class 60 which I believe was used to move the few undamaged wagons from the front. Brave driver to uncouple as well as carry out all the protection duties required.

We didn't get the RAIB (Rail Accident Investigation Branch) summary before, so here it is:
Quote
Published 28 August 2020
Last updated 28 August 2020 — see all updates

At about 23:15 hrs on 26 August 2020, train 6A11, the 21:52 hrs freight service from Robeston to Theale, conveying 25 tank wagons, each containing up to 75.5 tonnes of diesel or gas oil, derailed on the ‘Up District’ line near Llangennech, in Carmarthenshire. The derailment and the subsequent damage to the wagons resulted in a significant spillage of fuel and a major fire. The driver, who was unhurt, reported the accident to the signaller. Subsequent examination of the site revealed that a total of 10 wagons (positioned 3rd to 12th in the train) had derailed.

The fire was tackled by the fire service, who ordered the evacuation of local residents due to concerns for their safety. Local people have reported seeing a plume of flames and smoke, and the strong smell of fuel. Our investigation will seek to identify the causes of the derailment, and how these led to the fire. It will also consider any underlying management factors.

If you read that carefully, and count wagons while looking at the aerial video, that confirms what was said elsewhere before: the loco and first two wagons split from the train during the accident and ran on until the brakes stopped them. The crew uncoupled from those and took the loco away - perhaps not being sure whether they were damaged, or just preferring not to go back to seal the brakes but to just get the hell out of there.
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