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Near miss involving track workers at Roydon, Essex, on 16 July 2012

The RAIB is investigating an incident involving a small group of track workers, east of Roydon station, Essex, on 16 July 2012.

The incident occurred at 13:41 hrs when train 2H33, the 13:04 hrs service from Cambridge to London Liverpool Street was approaching Roydon at a speed of about 65 mph (104 km/h). As the train approached a small bridge that carries the railway over the river Stort, the driver of the train observed two track workers on the bridge who were moving away from the path of his train. The last of these workers reached the end of the bridge structure and moved clear of the track only two to three seconds before the passage of the train.

Image of incident location near Roydon
Image taken from a forward facing CCTV camera on train 2H33

At the time of the incident, the two workers were carrying out routine measurements of the distance between the track and exposed bridge girders that are located on both sides of the line. Because of the height of the girders relative to the track, the workers had to walk to the end of the bridge in order to get clear of the approaching train. The line had not been blocked to trains, and so a system of work had been established that required a lookout (the third member of the gang) to provide a verbal warning when he saw a train approaching.

The RAIB's preliminary examination has found that the distance between the lookout and the point at which trains first came into his view (ie the 'sighting distance') was too short to provide sufficient time for the workers to move clear (railway rules require that workers should be in a position of safety for at least 10 seconds before the arrival of a train).

The RAIB's ongoing enquiries will include an examination of the way in which the task was planned and the system of work was implemented; in particular, the method used to determine the sighting distance available from the site of work. The systems in place to assure that track workers are sufficiently competent to work in such circumstances will also be considered.

The RAIB will publish a bulletin or report, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of its investigation.

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