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Signals were working correctly before collision between train and tractor near Knaresborough

The Rail Investigation Branch (RAIB) have published initial findings following a collision between a passenger train and an agricultural tractor at Oakwood Farm User Worked Crossing, Knaresborough.

  • The accident occurred at 18:16 hrs on 14 May 2015, and involved the 17:29 hrs Northern Rail passenger service from Leeds to York
  • The train (reporting number 2C52) consisted of two Class 150 2-car multiple units. The collision with the tractor occurred at Oakwood Farm User Worked Crossing (UWC) on a single line section of track between Knaresborough and Cattal stations
  • The tractor was hauling an empty trailer and was stationary on the crossing when the train, travelling close to the line speed limit of 65 mph (104 km/h), collided with it
  • The train did not derail and none of the 66 passengers was injured
  • Two of the three train crew and the tractor driver were taken to hospital – all were badly shaken by the accident
  • The impact caused the front of the tractor to become detached from the rear cab-end, with the cab remaining intact
  • The leading end of the front Class 150 unit was damaged and stopped 468 metres beyond the crossing with one of the tractor’s wheels wedged under the train in front of one of its leading wheels.

A private tarmac road which crosses the railway, allows access between Oakwood Farm and the A59.

On each side of the crossing there is a gate and miniature stop lights (MSL). These show a green light when there are no trains in the vicinity and a red light when a train is approaching. The approach of a train also activates an audible alarm sounder (Yodalarm). There are also telephones to contact the signaller should this be required.

Additionally, the gates at Oakwood Farm UWC have been fitted with a power-operated system known as POGO (Power Operated Gate Opener). This allows the gates to be opened and closed remotely from buttons mounted on posts either side of the crossing. Some regular users have been provided with mobile operating devices which can control the gates from within their vehicles. It is understood that the tractor driver involved did not have a mobile operating device and used one of the push buttons to open the gates. The gates can be operated at any time and are not interlocked with the MSL operating system.

As a result of testing of the signalling equipment, including the MSL’s and information from the data logger at the crossing, the RAIB has concluded that the track circuits and the MSL’s were working correctly at the time of the accident.

RAIB’s investigation will consider the sequence of events and the factors that led to the accident. The investigation will include a review of the crossing’s design features, its history and any factors that may have influenced behaviour of crossing users.

The investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry, the police or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road. They will publish their findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of their investigation.

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