Train crash at Norwich station may have been caused by driver’s ‘microsleep’, says report

Accident investigators at the scene of the train collision at Norwich railway station.
Photo: Bill Smith Accident investigators at the scene of the train collision at Norwich railway station. Photo: Bill Smith

Thursday, May 1, 2014
2:36 PM

A crash at Norwich railway station, which resulted in eight passengers being taken to hospital, happened because the driver had a “microsleep” or a lapse in concentration, an official report has found.

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The two trains after the collision. Picture: British Transport PoliceThe two trains after the collision. Picture: British Transport Police

An investigation was launched last year after a Greater Anglia train carrying 35 passengers collided at 8mph with a stationary train at the station at 12.11am on July 21.

A report from the Railway Accident Investigation Board (RAIB), published today, said that the driver had a history of incidents during his career and during the last 20 seconds of the driver’s approach to the station, he “either had a lapse in concentration or a microsleep.”

Investigators added that a number of factors may have been responsible to explain the driver’s possible lapse in concentration, including the noise made by passengers coming back from a stag party in Great Yarmouth immediately behind his cab.

The RAIB added that the driver was tired through a short-term lack of sleep, and his performance might also have been affected by the prescribed medication that he was taking.

The two trains after the collision. Picture: British Transport PoliceThe two trains after the collision. Picture: British Transport Police

Click here to read the full Rail Accident Report (pdf)

The report said the driver had previous history indicative that he was prone to lapses in concentration, and that this had not been identified by Greater Anglia’s competence management system.

“Opportunities to formally review the driver’s operational history were missed and this was also not identified by the internal audits

conducted by Greater Anglia,” the report added.

As a result of the collision on platform six of the station, eight passengers with injuries were taken to hospital.

The RAIB has issued four recommendations to Greater Anglia and one to Network Rail following the incident.

An Abellio Greater Anglia spokesman said: “We have worked closely with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) throughout the course of their investigation. We have studied and note the contents of the RAIB report and have already implemented the majority of the recommendations that have been made, in addition to the specific actions that we have taken since July 2013 to improve our management systems. From the commencement of Abellio Greater Anglia taking over the franchise just over two years ago we have ensured that the safety of our passengers and employees is at the heart of our operation and the key priority for us at all times.”

A Network Rail spokesman added: “Network Rail will take note of any recommendations raised in the RAIB report. These will be considered carefully and we will take action as appropriate.”

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