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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Handbrake failure caused van to crash on to Cumbrian train line - report

A train was just moments from smashing into a runaway van which plunged onto a railway track.

Aspatria van photo
The wreckage of the Nissan Cabstar on the railway line

They quick-thinking of a member of staff in a control centre averted a crash on the Cumbrian coastal line.

An alert was triggered after the handbrake failed on a roofer’s van and it rolled down a hill and onto the track at Aspatria.

Details of the response to the emergency have been revealed in a report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

It happened on October 26 last year when the handbrake failed on a roofer’s van, leaving the Nissan Cabstar plummeting through a town centre fence onto the railway line.

The van was destroyed during the incident but a more serious crash was prevented after the police managed to notify Network Rail officials just in time – with the train eventually being stopped only 1.5 miles from the scene of the crash.

Bothel roofer Brian Cass told investigators that his van had been parked facing uphill on the B5299 Brayton Road for around two minutes before its handbrake gave way.

The van then broke through the wooden railway boundary fence and rolled down the cutting side onto the railway, blocking the line.

When Mr Cass realised his van had moved, he chased it down the street suffering minor injuries during his desperate pursuit.

The report states: “At 10.01am, a member of the public called Cumbria police to advise them of the incident, and at 10.03am the police called Network Rail’s route control in Manchester. At the same time one of the route controllers was receiving the call from the police, a second controller, who had overheard the report from the police, made an emergency stop call on the national radio network to the driver of the train which stopped on the approach.

“Prompt reporting and action by those involved therefore ensured that the train that was approaching the site of the incursion was stopped well before reaching it.”

As a result of the investigation Network Rail is now working on a new roadside barrier to help prevent another vehicle leaving the road and ending up on the track in the future.

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