Stonehaven crash train struck ‘pile of washed-out rock and gravel’, inquiry finds

Network Rail’s interim report on the Stonehaven rail crash found that the train 'struck a pile of washed-out rock and gravel before derailing'
Network Rail’s interim report on the Stonehaven rail crash found that the train 'struck a pile of washed-out rock and gravel before derailing' - (Copyright PA Wire)
9:05am, Thu 10 Sep 2020
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Network Rail’s interim report on the Stonehaven rail crash found that the train “struck a pile of washed-out rock and gravel before derailing”, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

The document assesses the management of thousands of miles of sloped ground beside railway tracks and sets out plans to reduce the risk of landslips.

We owe it to those who lost their lives, were injured, and were affected by this incident, to learn and act on every possible lesson to ensure this is never repeated

The interim report was commissioned by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

A ScotRail service came off the tracks in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire on August 12, killing driver Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury.

Hundreds of sites across the country have been inspected over the last three weeks by engineers and specialist contractors, with the support of helicopter surveys, to identify “any significant issues requiring emergency intervention”, according to the DfT.

Mr Shapps said: “We owe it to those who lost their lives, were injured, and were affected by this incident, to learn and act on every possible lesson to ensure this is never repeated.

“The independent investigation will enable us to understand exactly what went wrong, and make sure it does not happen again.

Investigators at the scene near Stonehaven - (Copyright PA Wire)

“We cannot delay learning the lessons. That is why I immediately commissioned this report and am making the interim findings available. I welcome the work setting out the challenges in adapting our rail infrastructure to cope with increasing extreme weather events caused by climate change. The task is now to overcome those challenges.

“We will use the findings of this interim report to improve, shape and accelerate our work to build a more robust and resilient rail network, so that our railway continues to be one of the safest in the world.”

Mr Shapps is writing to the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Iain Thomas Livingstone, to recommend that Pc Liam Mercer, one of the first officers on the scene at Stonehaven, is commended for his bravery.

One of the derailed carriages is due to be recovered on Thursday.

The DfT said the interim report highlights the need for an “increased focus on deploying technology” to predict landslips, and investment in better weather forecasting systems.

The review suggested that industry rules for reporting and responding to heavy rainfall will be improved to help signallers manage services during poor weather.

Discussions will be held with meteorologists to understand how real-time information “can be better used to inform train operations” during unpredictable extreme weather, the DfT added.

A final report providing more detail on improving the railway’s management of extreme weather will be published “in due course”.

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