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RAIB Report: Train driver struck by a train near West Worthing Middle Siding

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RAIB has today released its report on a train driver struck by a train near West Worthing Middle Siding, West Sussex, 1 February 2022.

Summary

At around 20:33 hrs on Tuesday 1 February 2022, a passenger train travelling at approximately 33 mph (53 km/h) struck a train driver who had previously exited the cab of a train, which was stationary in West Worthing Middle Siding. The driver suffered injuries that were immediately fatal. It was dark at the time of the accident, and the crew in the moving train were initially unaware that they had struck a person.

When the stationary train in the middle siding did not leave at its scheduled departure time, the signaller attempted to contact the driver. When the signaller could not get a response, he instructed the next train on an adjacent line to stop alongside the stationary train and to contact the driver. The driver of this third train found the driver who had been struck.

RAIB determined that, before leaving the stationary train in the middle siding, the driver did not tell the train’s guard or the signaller that he intended to do so. He also did not request that trains on the adjacent lines be stopped. RAIB has not been able to establish why the driver left the cab of his train. However, in considering only those factors relating to railway safety, RAIB has concluded that the driver was unlikely to have accidentally fallen out of the cab or left it intentionally for a work- related reason and that he most probably exited the train for a personal reason. This may have been to urinate or to smoke a cigarette, possibly in the belief that it was safe for him to be outside of his train.

The driver then entered the path of the approaching train. He may have done this inadvertently after a loss of balance or while trying to regain his feet following a fall from the cab access steps or a loss of footing on ballast. He may also have slipped or tripped on a wooden board that had been left detached on the track for many years.

Recommendations

RAIB has made three recommendations. The first recommendation, made to Govia Thameslink Railway, requires that on-train staff have adequate access to toilets across all of their routes. The second recommendation is made to the Department for Transport, in conjunction with the Rail Safety and Standards Board, and relates to reviewing standards to ensure the mandatory fitment of forward-facing CCTV equipment to new trains. The third recommendation is made to the Rail Safety and Standards Board, in conjunction with operators of trains, and encourages consideration of fitment of forward-facing CCTV equipment to existing trains.

RAIB has also identified four learning points. The first reminds traincrew to arrange appropriate protection before leaving their cabs. The second highlights the importance of wearing suitable personal protective equipment. The third learning point prompts infrastructure managers to take timely action to remove tripping hazards. The final learning point reminds employers of train drivers to assure themselves that the correct protective equipment is being worn by their staff.

Photo credit: RAIB

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