Person walked over crossing eight seconds before train crashed into it

Mid-Norfolk Railway near miss

The near-miss, which was looked into by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) happened at 3.52pm on December 10, 2020, at Dereham Railway Station. - Credit: Mid-Norfolk Railway

A person walked over a Norfolk railway crossing just eight seconds before a runaway train crashed into it, it has been revealed.

The train carriage blocking Norwich Road crossing in Dereham.

The train carriage blocking Norwich Road crossing in Dereham. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Supplied

The near-miss happened at 3.52pm on December 10, 2020, at Dereham Railway Station. 

New CCTV images show that one person walked in front of the vehicle eight seconds before it ran into the crossing.

A total of 250 pedestrians and cyclists and 150 cars, vans and buses had used the level crossing during the time that the vehicle was being unloaded.

The carriage blocking the Norwich Road crossing in Dereham.

The carriage blocking the Norwich Road crossing in Dereham. - Credit: Supplied

Although the RAIB did not formally investigate the incident, the watchdog has published a Safety Digest talking about the specific details of the accident.


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It was found that the train ran away while a remote control winch was being used to roll it of an inclined trailer, which led it to roll into the gated level crossing.

The haulage driver who delivered the vehicle and also the accompanying escort van driver worked together to unload the car when the incident happened.

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The RAIB safety digest explained: "After the winch had taken the initial load, the escort van driver released other chains that were securing the vehicle to the road trailer.

"The driver allowed the vehicle to gradually roll off the inclined trailer, around 70 seconds later, the driver heard the attachment chain drop and the vehicle ran away towards the level crossing."

The car then rolled for more than 30 seconds passing a stop board, damaging trailing points, and went onto the running line where it collided with the level crossing gates.

Mid-Norfolk Railway (MNR) explained the siding in the station yard had been used as a place for unloading vehicles for over 20 years without incident.

But the RAIB found the station to have no rules, guidance, supervision requirements, or safety precautions relating to this use.

A spokesperson from MNR said: "The MNR can say that even prior to the incident and for purely operational railway reasons, the unloading spur at Dereham Station was going to be moved.

"With regards to the incident itself, the railway has always used reputable specialist contractors. 

"Clearly in this case as the digest identifies there were failings, but the general public can rest assured that rail safety is of the highest priority to the MNR. 

"The measures that are being taken by the railway will guarantee a similar incident cannot happen in the future as the track work involved in the incident will be removed."

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