Poor maintenance has been blamed for a freight train derailment between Manea and Ely which caused massive disruption for Fenland passengers
A freight train derailment between Ely and Manea which caused massive disruption to Fenland rail passengers for a week last summer was caused through poor maintenance of the wagons.
A report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) into last August’s incident, published on Thursday (2) found the first wagon to leave the track did so because the system to stop it bouncing on the rails was ineffective.
The accident happened just after 2.20pm on Monday August 14 when the rear 12 wagons of the freight train derailed at Ely West Junction.
The train, which was carrying containers, was travelling at 41mph at the time and continued to run for approximately 350 metres after the derailment, causing significant damage to the tracks, which had to be replaced.
Heavy lifting gear was needed to remove the derailed wagons before the repairs could be done and the line was closed between March and Ely for a week.
The RAIB report said the first wagon to derail was fitted with Y33 bogies and the derailment occurred because the damping on the bogies was ineffective.
A bogie is a structure underneath a railway vehicle (wagon, coach or locomotive) to which axles and wheels are attached through bearings, which serve a number of purposes including stability of the train, support of the rail vehicle body, and improve the ride of the train by absorbing vibration.
The damping components were ineffective because they had not been properly maintained, and had been on the wagon since it was built in 2003.
They had been last repaired in 2010, but when the work was done it had not taken into account wear and tear before the next general repair was due in 2017.
The report said the fleet of wagons has since gone through general repair and all of the damping components have been replaced.
As a result the RAIB makes a number of recommendations to the company responsible for maintaining the wagons including ensuring that bogies on freight wagons remain adequately damped at all times.
The report adds: “In addition, the RAIB has identified three learning points. The first reminds those responsible for updating maintenance instructions that repair limits quoted in guidelines or by manufacturers should not be used as maintenance limits as this provides no future operational life.
“The second learning point reminds entities in charge of maintenance that they should have a validated system of maintenance that ensures that the vehicles for which they are in charge remain safe for operation. The final learning point reminds maintainers of this type of bogie that some of them are fitted with an inspection window to allow the damping system components to be visually examined.”
The RAIB’s sole purpose is to investigate accidents and incidents to improve railway safety. It does not establish blame, liability or carry out prosecutions.