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Report into 2015 derailment of train in Knaresborough

Derailed train: November 2015

A report into the derailment of a passenger train at Knaresborough has concluded that it was caused by the mistake of a signaller who only infrequently operated signal boxes.

The Northern Rail passenger service from York to Harrogate derailed in November 2015 on a set of points on the approach to Knaresborough station.

The leading five bogies derailed and damage was sustained by both the train and track. None of the train crew or five passengers on board were injured. The line was re-opened the following day.

The report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch states that the signaller in Knaresborough signal box had authorised the train to pass a signal at danger (red), without realising that the set of points beyond the signal was in an unsafe condition.

The signaller had not checked the associated points position indicator in the signal box and misinterpreted the significance of being able to reverse the signal lever, leading him to believe that the route was correctly set and safe.

The signaller that day was a mobile operations manager. As a mobile operations manager, his core work was to respond to faults and incidents on the railway network; he operated signal boxes infrequently.

– RAIB report

The RAIB concluded that the signaller did not have a full understanding of the working of Knaresborough signal box and that this lack of knowledge may have been the result of either poor initial training or the way his knowledge had been maintained.

And that an underlying factor to the incident was the lack of robustness of Network Rail’s competence management system for non-signallers (the people within Network Rail whose core duty is not to operate signal boxes but who occasionally have to do so).

As a result of this investigation, RAIB has recommended Network Rail reviews whether the changes that it has recently made to the operations manual have resulted in non-signallers maintaining the required level of knowledge and experience.