A number of safety concerns have been raised after passengers were injured when a train sped through Peterborough Railway Station nearly three times over the limit – which could have led to it overturning.
At around 10:20am on April 17 last year, the Lumo service from Newcastle to London King’s Cross, passed over three sets of points at Spital Junction at the northern approach to Peterborough station. The maximum permitted speed over the junction is initially 30 mph (48 km/h) reducing to 25 mph (40 km/h). The data recorder from the train indicated that the the speed of the train reached 76 mph (122 km/h).
A report from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said that the speed of the train over the junction resulted in sudden sideways movements of the coaches, which led to some passengers being thrown from their seats and luggage falling from the overhead storage, with some people suffering minor injuries.
The report said: “ Although the train did not derail, and no damage was caused, post-incident analysis has indicated that the train was close to a speed that would have led to it overturning, and it was likely that some of the wheels of the vehicles lifted off the rails.”
Now the RAIB have called for action to prevent similar incidents happening in the future.
RAIB has made four recommendations. The first recommendation is for Lumo to review its processes to ensure that it effectively controls the risk of overspeeding at diverging junctions. The second recommendation asks Network Rail to identify junctions where there is a greater potential for overspeeding to occur and to work with operators to share information on the associated risks. The third recommendation asks Network Rail and train operators to consider and implement risk control measures at those junctions identified in the second recommendation. The fourth recommendation is intended to ensure that Lumo minimises the risks from falling luggage on its services.
Andrew Hall, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents said: “The overspeeding incident at Spital junction in April 2022, led to a number of minor injuries. Some passengers were thrown from their seats and some hit by luggage falling from overhead racks. However, the outcome could have been much worse, as analysis showed the train was close to overturning. A similar event occurred at the same junction in May 2023, albeit a little slower and involving a train operated by a different train operating company.
“As designed, the signal protecting the junction cleared from red to green and displayed an indicator showing which way the junction was set as the train approached. The risk associated with a train then accelerating to an excessive speed over the associated diverging junction, when the driver has an expectation of taking a through route with a much higher permissible speed, had previously been illustrated when a light locomotive derailed in similar circumstances at Bletchley in February 2012. The risk associated with particular junctions and drivers, varies with infrastructure configuration and driver expectation.
“It is therefore absolutely necessary that Network Rail and train operating companies work together to mutually understand and sufficiently mitigate risks of this type at specific locations, accounting for the rolling stock and operations involved.”