Express & Star

Train workers jump clear of freight train with 'second to spare' after miscommunication

Network Rail says it has accepted recommendations after two track workers jumped out of the path of an oncoming freight train with less than a second to spare in a frightening near miss.

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CCTV from the freight train showing the light of a railway worker in front of him. Photo: GB Railfreight

The two workers were on the railway line near Penkridge station shortly before midnight on July 10 last year when a miscommunication led to a freight train bearing down on them at 61mph (98km/h).

A Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) report found the two workers had been part of a group trying to fix a fault with the overheard lines which help power electric trains along the route between Wolverhampton and Stafford. Network Rail blocked the northbound line so workers could safely identify the problem.

The pair had split off from the rest of the group, but a recognised safe system of work was not in place to protect them from any approaching trains with the two workers believing the line was blocked still when they left their colleagues.

However, the person in charge believed they were standing away from the track in a safe position, so gave signallers the go-ahead to lift the line blockage and allow a freight train to be sent through. However, both workers were still on the line as the train approached.