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Author Topic: Runaway engineering train on London Underground - 13 August 2010  (Read 6094 times)
bigdaz
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« on: August 14, 2010, 11:42:00 am »

Quote from http://www.dailyecho.co.uk
Quote
A RUNAWAY train travelled for four miles on the London Underground without a driver - but amazingly no one was hurt.
It went went through six stations on a 13-minute journey, with other trains having to be cleared out of its path.
The unmanned engineering train became uncoupled as it was towed on the Nor thern Line near Archway station in north London at 6.44am.
Quick-thinking staff diverted passenger trains to the City branch of the Northern line while the runaway train headed south on the Charing Cross branch where passenger trains had already been cleared.
It came to a rest when it reached a slight incline at Warren Street station just after 7am.
London Underground and the Rail Accident Investigation Bureau launched an immediate probe as some services were suspended.
LU said the train had become defective at 5.25am as it approached Archway and engineers began to move the train northbound by coupling it to an out-of-service Northern line train.
But it came uncoupled and thundered off down the track. Richard Parry, LU director, said: "Safety is our top priority. From the start of this incident, an immediate assessment was made and decisions taken to minimise the risk to customers and staff."
"Our engineers are working to restore full services as soon as possible, and we apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers while we investigate this incident."
Last night, angry union leaders said only luck had prevented any injuries and blamed the "major safety failure" on cost cutting.
RMT transport union assistant general secretary Pat Sikorski said: "We are appalled and horrified at this major incident during passenger traffic hours and which could have very easily resulted in disaster.
"This horrific failure comes against a background of a systematic reduction in safety-critical jobs and safety procedures as a direct result of a financial cuts programme."
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bigdaz
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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2010, 12:09:20 pm »

Swift action by signallers and alike averted what could have been a very serious accident.  What I don't understand is, couldn't they have cut the power to the line to stop the train more instantly?  Am I being thick?
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paul7755
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2010, 12:27:24 pm »

The failed train was being rescued in an unpowered and unbraked condition, according to reports elsewhere.  Turning off the power would only have stopped other trains (depending on the size of power switching sections)...

Paul
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2010, 12:43:06 pm »

From the BBC:

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A runaway train went through six stops on a 13-minute journey on London's Tube with other trains having to be cleared out of its path.

The engineering train became uncoupled as it was towed on the Northern Line near Archway station on Friday morning.

Passenger trains were diverted to another branch of the Northern Line while trains were cleared from the Charing Cross branch.

The train ran for nearly four miles before it stopped at Warren Street.

It came to a rest only because there is a slight incline at the station.

Tom Redfern joined the line in Archway on the train in front of the runaway vehicle. He said: "As soon as we pulled away the driver came on the tannoy and said, 'There is an emergency, will everyone move towards the front of the train'. There was a ripple of panic. I went from half asleep to a big adrenaline rush. I thought, 'Is this it?'"

The train bypassed all stations until Moorgate in an attempt to keep ahead of the other vehicle.

Mr Redfern said: "We went full speed. We knew the situation was dangerous because we were going fast. Even by the driver's voice, we could tell it was serious."

Pat Sikorski, of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: "We are appalled and horrified at this major incident which could have very easily resulted in disaster. The runaway train represents a safety failure of the highest order. We understand a collision with a passenger service train leaving Archway was only narrowly avoided."

The engineering train, which was undertaking rail maintenance work, had been travelling southbound on the High Barnet branch of the Northern Line.
But at 0644 BST the vehicle, which does not carry passengers, became detached from the towing train and began to move southbound.

London Underground (LU) staff diverted passenger trains to the City branch while directing the engineering train to the cleared Charing Cross branch.

The engineering train came to a halt at 0657 BST.

LU's Richard Parry said he "could not speculate" about how fast the train had been travelling. "Northern line trains will travel even at full propulsion at 35mph," he added. "I'm confident it would have been at a lower speed than that."

He said no passenger trains were closer than a kilometre (0.6 miles) from the runaway train. "It was no closer than a kilometre away. That was the closest any train was in the area to where this train was," he said.

The line was suspended between Finchley Central and Archway and between Camden Town and Kennington via Charing Cross, leading to widespread disruption.

Mr Parry added: "Safety is our top priority and we have launched an immediate and thorough investigation into this incident."
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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.
Electric train
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2010, 03:16:04 pm »

Swift action by signallers and alike averted what could have been a very serious accident.  What I don't understand is, couldn't they have cut the power to the line to stop the train more instantly?  Am I being thick?
It was an "engineers train" which the locomotives on the LU are battery powered, the runaway could have been just wagons may be some specialist plant again on the tube network these may well be battery powered. 

This is as serious as any railway incident can get, the Tebay accident 15 feb 2004 when 4 track maintenance workers were killed by a runaway wagon laden with 16 Tonnes of scrap rail.  2 people from the plant hire company were jailed for gross negligence one for 2 years and one (the owner of the hire company) for 9 years, they had tampered with the hydraulic brake system.  Even though the speed of the LU runaway is less than the Tebay runaway if any staff had still been in the tunnels when that wet through it would have been fatal, an impact with a passenger train could have resulted in very serious injury if not death, the RAIB, HMIR and Police will investigate this incident as though that had happened.

The LU operations staff would seem to have acted very professionally and coolly to have controlled the runaway the way they did
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« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2010, 12:39:54 am »

Furthur news from the BBC:

Leaked video shows runaway Underground train.
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2010, 12:48:25 am »

From the RAIB:

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Investigation into the runaway of an engineering train from Highgate to Warren Street on the Northern Line on 13 August 2010

The RAIB is carrying out an investigation into the runaway of an engineering train which occurred on the Northern Line of London Underground (LUL) on Friday 13th August 2010.

The train consisted of a self-propelled diesel-powered unit designed for re-profiling worn rails. It had been working between Highgate and Archway stations on the southbound line during the night of 12/13 August. At the end of grinding operations that night, the crew of the unit found that they were unable to restart its engine to travel away from the site of work.

An assisting train, consisting of a six-car train of the 1995 stock used for passenger services on the Northern line, was sent to the rescue of the grinding unit. The assisting train was coupled to the grinding unit by means of an emergency coupling device, and the braking system of the grinding unit was de-activated to allow it to be towed. The combined trains then set out to run to East Finchley station. At about 06:44 hrs, after passing through Highgate station, the coupling device failed and the grinding unit began to run back down the gradient towards central London. The crew of the grinding unit, who had no means of re-applying the brake, jumped off the unit as it passed through Highgate station. It then ran unattended for about four miles, passing through a further six stations, and came to rest near Warren Street station about thirteen minutes later. No-one was hurt.

There was some damage to the grinding unit, and points at Mornington Crescent station were damaged when the unit ran through them.

LUL control room staff took action to clear trains away from the path of the runaway unit. The RAIB^s investigation will seek to identify the position of these trains in relation to the runaway. It will also consider the reasons for the failure of the coupling, and the rules and procedures applicable to the rescue of failed engineering trains.

The RAIB^s preliminary examination has identified no evidence that the condition of the track or the signalling system contributed to the incident.

The RAIB^s investigation is independent of any investigations by the safety authority.

The RAIB will publish a report, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of its investigation. This report will be available on the RAIB website.
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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 #7 on: August 19, 2010, 02:22:39 pm »

sounds like a very serious safety breach.  As Electric train said, it could have easily resulted in death as at Tebay, although underground a runaway train is even more serious as track workers can't exactly get out of the way even if they see it coming.

Relying on a single coupling device for safety must be regarded as a serious mistake. 
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bignosemac
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2011, 06:26:00 pm »

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch has now published its report for this incident:

http://www.raib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/110615_R092011_Highgate.pdf
« Last Edit: July 20, 2013, 11:35:39 pm by chris from nailsea » Logged

Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2012, 10:42:14 pm »

From the BBC:

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Runaway Northern Line Tube train: Charges brought

London Underground is to be prosecuted by the rail regulator over a runaway engineering train.

An engineering train ran for four miles and ploughed through six stops on the Northern Line at the start of a morning rush hour in August 2010. As a result, a passenger train had to be diverted.

Maintenance firm Tube Lines and Scheerbau, the train's owner, are also to be prosecuted by the Office of Rail Regulation.

Transport for London (TfL) said it was "very disappointed" with the decision.

The engineering train became uncoupled as it was towed on the Northern Line near Archway station. It ran for nearly four miles before it stopped at Warren Street, in central London. It came to a rest because of a slight incline at the station.

Passenger trains were diverted to another branch of the Northern Line while the Charing Cross branch was cleared.

Bob Crow, leader of the Rail Maritime and Transport union said: "This was an horrific incident that came perilously close to a grinder colliding with a passenger train and RMT warned at the time that it was a serious mistake on the part of London Underground to downplay the potential consequences."

Mike Strzelecki, London Underground's Director of Safety, said: "This was clearly a serious incident and London Underground and Tube Lines acted quickly to investigate its causes and take action to ensure that the risk of such a rare incident recurring was minimised. Following the incident LU immediately put in place procedures to remove the engineering train and tow-bar from use on the railway. Since then LU and Tube Lines have put in place even tighter approvals and controls for the design and use of all such equipment. LU staff's swift actions meant that this incident was drawn to a safe conclusion."


LU staff took the decision to divert passenger trains to the City branch while directing the engineering train to the cleared Charing Cross branch.
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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 #10 on: May 16, 2012, 11:01:33 pm »

Clearly a serious incident.   It's interesting to see how the BBC's reporting changes from August 2010 to May 2012:

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A runaway train went through six stops on a 13-minute journey on London's Tube with other trains having to be cleared out of its path.

Quote
An engineering train ran for four miles and ploughed through six stops on the Northern Line at the start of a morning rush hour in August 2010. As a result, a passenger train had to be diverted.

I always thought of "ploughing" as either making a furrow as it went, or colliding and causing damage - is the original wording more accurate, even if more mundane?
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2012, 11:08:47 pm »

Hmm. We've had a rather similar discussion about the 'journalistic license' use of the word hurtling before now: see http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=10178.msg105648#msg105648  Roll Eyes
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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.
TonyK
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« Reply #12 on: May 17, 2012, 07:55:17 pm »

Hmm. We've had a rather similar discussion about the 'journalistic license' use of the word hurtling before now: see http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=10178.msg105648#msg105648  Roll Eyes

It sounds more dramatic than "Passengers were inconvenienced", which happily was the outcome.
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« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2013, 07:56:41 pm »

From the BBC:

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Runaway Tube train: Operators fined ^300,000

Three transport companies have been fined ^300,000 after a runaway train came within 2,000ft (600m) of crashing into a packed tube train.

The Old Bailey heard how a maintenance wagon broke free from an empty passenger train which was towing it.

It hurtled at up to 30mph for four miles (6km) down the Northern Line, passing through seven stations.

London Underground (LU), Tube Lines Ltd and Schweerbau GMBH pleaded guilty to endangering passengers and staff.

They were each fined ^100,000.

Switch lines

The court heard members of the public had been exposed to a substantial risk of danger.

The 39 tonne train was out of control for 16 minutes and passed through stations while passengers on the platform looked on at 06:30 BST on 13 August 2010.

The two maintenance workers on board managed to jump off at Highgate station.

Passengers on the train in front were instructed by their driver to move through the carriages to the front of the tube as it passed through stations as the runaway gained on them.

Prosecutor Jonathan Ashley-Norman, for the Office of Rail Regulation, said there could have been a "terrible tragedy" had it not been for the "prompt and skilful actions" of London Underground staff in the control room.

He said they managed to switch lines which slowed the runaway train so it came to rest as it reached an incline near Warren Street station in central London.

The court was told a coupler which had been attached to the broken-down track maintenance wagon broke, allowing it to detach from the train which was pulling it.

'Inadequate management'

The Old Bailey heard that all three companies had made major improvements since the incident.

Keith Morton, QC, for the Tube companies, said: "London Underground is one of the safest railways in the world - if not the safest."

LU director Mike Strzelecki said it has since put in place tighter approvals and controls for the design and use of all engineering trains.

"LU staff's swift actions meant that this incident was drawn to a safe conclusion," he added.

Ian Prosser, Office of Rail Regulation safety director, said that in this case, the train companies through "inadequate management and planning" had failed to ensure the safe recovery of an engineering train.

"This is clearly unacceptable, and led to a potentially catastrophic incident on the Northern Line where the train careered out of control for over four miles. It was only the professionalism of control room staff taking decisive action which prevented a collision between trains, and averted a much more serious outcome."
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