Margam rail deaths: Colleagues tried to warn track workers
Colleagues of two track workers killed when they were struck by a train only became aware they were in danger as the train was very close to them, despite colleagues’ warnings.
That’s according to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), which has set out the structure of its independent investigation into the incident.
The accident took place on 3 July this year at Margam East junction on the South Wales Main Line.
The two workers, along with a third who narrowly avoided being struck by the train, were part of a group of six staff, who were undertaking scheduled track maintenance on lines that were still open to traffic.
The train, which was travelling from Swansea to London Paddington, was approaching Margam on the up line at around 73 mph. Its driver saw three track workers walking away from him on the adjacent line and, beyond them, three more track workers on the line ahead of his train. He sounded the train horn and applied the emergency brakes. The track workers walking on the adjacent line became aware of the train approaching and tried to warn their colleagues as the train passed them.
The three track workers on the up line were working on a set of points, using a petrol-engined tool for loosening and tightening large nuts. As a result, at least one of the workers was wearing ear defenders, the RAIB confirmed.
CCTV images taken from a camera at the front of the train suggest that the workers did not become aware of the train until it was very close to them. By this time, it was travelling at around 50 mph.
The RAIB’s investigation will identify the sequence of events that led to the accident and consider:
- what might have influenced the actions of those on site
- the protection arrangements that were in place
- the planning of the work and the implementation of Network Rail’s standard for keeping people safe on or near the line
- any relevant underlying management or organisational factors
Its findings are due to be published once the investigation is complete.