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Network Rail told to adopt new safety programme after rail worker collision

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Accident investigators have recommended Network Rail adopts a new ‘time-based’ safety programme after a track worker was struck by a train in South London.

The train was passing Stoats Nest Junction, near Purley, on a line which had just been reopened to normal traffic after an overnight closure for track maintenance work.

The 05.00 Gatwick Airport to London Victoria service was travelling at around 60mph when it struck the Network Rail worker on June 12, 2011, leaving them seriously injured.

Safety measures being used by the track maintenance team were based on the adjacent line being closed and had not been updated when services had been resumed.

Five other workers narrowly avoided being hit by the Southern service, claiming not to have heard the train’s horn. The driver is thought to have used a low volume setting which may have been masked by machinery noise.

The RAIB is concerned that, despite these issues being raised in its reports from as early as 2007, it is only recently that the outcome of this work has started to impact on the activities of ordinary track workers.

An investigation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) showed that Network Rail’s new national safety initiatives had not yet reached the staff based at East Croydon depot, where the team was based, and that the controller of site safety (COSS) had left the site without a substitute being appointed.

The report said: “The RAIB has recognised that, partly in response to recommendations in previous RAIB reports, Network Rail are developing and implementing programmes of work intended to improve safety culture and qualities of safety leadership. However, the RAIB is concerned that, despite these issues being raised in its reports from as early as 2007, it is only recently that the outcome of this work has started to impact on the activities of ordinary track workers.

“Given the above, the RAIB has issued a recommendation that urges Network Rail to develop a time-based programme to expedite the planned safety improvements in the area of safety leadership and culture for track workers, and their managers.”

Southern Railway Ltd has now re-briefed its drivers on the correct use of the horn.

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