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Near miss at Watlington, near King’s Lynn, after signaller forgot to put level crossing under manual control

PUBLISHED: 10:46 19 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:12 19 October 2017

A van using the crossing as the train waits at the platform. Picture: GTR

A van using the crossing as the train waits at the platform. Picture: GTR

Archant

A signaller forgot to follow procedures, allowing a car over a level crossing in front of an approaching train.

The car involved in the near miss. Picture: GTR The car involved in the near miss. Picture: GTR

The near miss happened at Watlington, between King’s Lynn and Downham Market, on the morning of Monday, August 7.

A report into the incident by the independent Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) says: “The crossing, controlled by the adjacent signal box, was open to road traffic at the time of the incident.

“The train, the 07:54 King’s Lynn to King’s Cross service, operated by Govia Thameslink Railway, was travelling at low speed as it had just left the station.

“Neither the driver of the train, nor the driving instructor travelling with him, were aware of the near miss.

The crossing at Watlington, near King's Lynn, where the near-miss occurred. Picture: Chris Bishop The crossing at Watlington, near King's Lynn, where the near-miss occurred. Picture: Chris Bishop

“The signaller in the adjacent signal box was also unaware of what had occurred.

“The incident was reported by a member of the public travelling in a car following the one involved.”
The report says the signaller at Watlington is responsible for lowering the barriers and ensuring that the crossing is closed to road traffic whenever trains are passing thriough the station.

The crossing had been closed minutes earlier when a train from King’s Cross arrived at the station. But its barriers reopen automatically after a train has passed.

But the report adds “for reasons that are unclear” a signal on the single track approach from King’s Lynn to the station remained at danger.

The crossing at Watlington, near King's Lynn, where the near-miss occurred. Picture: Chris Bishop The crossing at Watlington, near King's Lynn, where the near-miss occurred. Picture: Chris Bishop

It says the signaller thought that this was because of a signalling fault in the King’s Lynn area, so he called the driver to authorise him to pass through it with caution.

“The signaller had forgotten to place Magdalen Road level crossing into manual control before authorising the train to pass the protecting signal as required by the rule book,” it concludes.

The report highlights “important safety messages” including signallers ensuring that the route is safe for trains to pass, placing crossings under manual control when allowing trains to pass red signals and “stopping and thinking before trying to recover from an unexpected event”.

No-one was injured in the incident. The RAIB’s report is classed as a “safety digest”, meaning it is not classed as a serious incident.

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