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Tractor driver in Roudham rail crash had been given permission to cross tracks, investigator reveals

PUBLISHED: 11:10 22 April 2016 | UPDATED: 14:36 22 April 2016

The train crash at Roudham level crossing near Thetford.

The train crash at Roudham level crossing near Thetford.

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A tractor driver who was seriously injured after his vehicle was hit by a train at a level crossing had been given permission to cross by an operator, a rail investigator has revealed.

The tractor driver was seriously injured. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYThe tractor driver was seriously injured. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is currently looking at how the 12.03pm Norwich to Cambridge service collided with a tractor near Roudham at the Hockham Road level crossing at around 12.30pm on April 10.

The tractor driver suffered serious injuries and remains in hospital in a stable condition. The train driver and at least seven passengers suffered minor injuries.

An initial statement from the RAIB, released on Friday morning, reveals that the tractor had been granted permission to cross the tracks, before the train hit the vehicle at 84mph.

The crossing system, which is on a private road, depends on vehicle users opening and closing the gates themselves, after using a telephone to get permission from a signaller at Cambridge.

Emergency and investigation teams at Roudham after a train hit a tractor on a level crossing and the passengers were led to safety down the tracks.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAYEmergency and investigation teams at Roudham after a train hit a tractor on a level crossing and the passengers were led to safety down the tracks. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

The collision saw a trailer separate from the tractor and strike the side of the train several times, breaking windows and puncturing the outer body of the train, before coming to rest at the side of the railway line, next to the tractor.

It states that the driving cab of the train was severely deformed by the impact, and the driver’s door broke away.

According to the statement, the crossing had been provided with red and green lights in 2012, which informed users whether it was safe to cross or not.

That equipment had been intentionally decommissioned at the time of the incident.

The RAIB will look at factors which may have influenced the actions of the people involved, the method of authorising vehicles to use the crossing, the history of the crossing equipment, the performance of the train during the collision, and any underlying management factors.

It states: “Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry, the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) and the British Transport Police.”

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