The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released a Safety Digest covering a recent derailment at Bognor Regis station.
On 22 October 2020, at around 05:14 hrs, the 05:05 hrs passenger service from Bognor Regis to Littlehampton derailed around 58 metres from its departure point in Platform 4 at Bognor Regis station. There were two members of staff and about 12 passengers on board, all of whom evacuated via the rear portion of the train, which was still in the platform. No one was injured.
The train, a three-car Class 313 electric multiple unit, was travelling at approximately 5mph (8km/h) at the time of the accident. All four wheels of its leading bogie derailed on points a short distance beyond signal BR12, which is the platform 4 starting signal.
A few minutes before the accident another train, the 04:57 hrs empty passenger train movement from Barnham, was approaching the station at Bognor Regis. The relief signaller at Bognor Regis, who had been called in to work at short notice, tried to set a route for this train into Platform 2 but found that he could not clear the associated signals, so he gave the train’s driver verbal authority to pass two signals at danger (red). These signals could not be cleared to a proceed aspect because of a fault on the points which lead from Platform 2 to the middle siding, but the signaller was not aware of this.
While the signaller had been dealing with the approach of train 5P17 and its arrival at Bognor Regis station, the departure time for the 05:14 from Platform 4 had passed. The signaller found that he was also unable to clear signal BR12. Consequently, he gave verbal authority for the train to pass the signal at danger.
However, the signaller did not realise that the reason he could not clear the signal BR12 was because a set of points was not in a secure position for this train’s movement, and the electrical interlocking prevented the signal from being cleared. The battery which powered all three sets of points in that area had failed.
The train then derailed on the affected points.
As a result of its investigation, RAIB highlighted the following safety learning:
- During degraded operations (such as when providing verbal authority for a train to pass a signal at danger), it may not be appropriate to rely on the protection normally offered by the interlocking. It is therefore important that signallers use all available information, including points indicators, to ensure that a route is correctly set before giving permission for a train to pass over it
- It is important that signaller competence management systems impart and maintain required levels of knowledge and familiarity for signallers to operate all signalling locations for which they are authorised, especially where equipment may not operate in ways that signallers would normally expect
- When short-notice changes to working patterns are necessary to cover staff shortages, it is important that the risk of fatigue is managed appropriately. In accordance with Network Rail’s standard on fatigue risk management, roster amendments should be made to minimise the build-up of fatigue and, where resource shortages are likely to be prolonged, the actual hours worked should be reviewed and the roster amended. The amendments should be risk assessed, and control measures put in place to manage identified fatigue risks.