Fri 19 April 2019

If you are asked to get off a stranded train by the driver you would think it was safe. But not according to the latest rail accident report…

450 passengers were asked to leave a broken down train on the London Overground at Peckham Rye in South London almost a year ago. But a recent report reveals how passengers had to jump out of a train over a live high voltage electric rail and walk close to it for 30 metres onto the platform at Peckham Rye station.

The action was only stopped when a station manager working for another company, Govia Thameslink, spotted it and ordered a halt. Arriva’s control room thought the train was in the station not 30 metres away from it.

The failure was caused by a lack of communication between the rail company, Arriva, the driver, the signalman, the station staff and Network Rail.

This it is not an isolated event. Just 14 months before the Virgin Express train driver had to cower under his Inverness to London express north of York to prevent being mown down by a 105mph express in the opposite direction. The trainee signalman had failed to tell the driver of the stopped train that he had not halted other trains in the area.

Exactly the same thing happened again at Stafford six months ago when a Manchester to London Virgin express stopped because of a fault. The driver who was badly shaken had to hide under the train to avoid being run over by an express coming in the opposite direction.

And there have been other incidents – including one that has not been reported of passengers getting out on to the tracks at Gospel Oak and waking to the station in 2013. A suburban train going forward without permission to take passengers off at Hackney Downs almost overran a junction where it could have crashed into a train coming in the opposite direction.

All these incidents suggest there could be a systemic failure in safety measures on our railways.

Since the Peckham Rye report was published both Network Rail and Arriva trains have issued statements promising action was taken to correct such incidents happening again. However the rail inspector is not impressed. He went back to Arriva’s control room after the incident and discovered it was still too noisy and cramped ,equipment was poor and staff not properly working together.

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