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"Slippery rails" clue to Chester train crash

Two people were injured when the Virgin service derailed and hit the buffers at Chester station on November 20.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said a rain shower had "reduced adhesion" between the rails and the wheels of the vehicle.

As the train approached Chester station the driver applied the brakes to reduce the speed for the 20 mph speed limit into the platforms.

"The weather at the time had been dry but a rain shower was just starting and the adhesion between the wheels and rails was reduced.

"The train’s wheel slide protection system detected that the wheels were sliding on the rails, regulated the application of the brakes, and the train was able to achieve a rate of deceleration sufficient to bring its speed down to within the speed limit as it approached the station."

– Rail Accident Investigation Branch Interim Report.

The train driver and on-board safety systems were able to slow the vehicle and bring it down to a safer speed.

Sand was fired onto the wheels to improve adhesion as the train approached the buffers, the report's author said.

The presence of the sand improved adhesion for the wheels that ran over it and the speed was reduced before the train collided with the buffer stop at the end of the platform."

– Rail Accident Investigation Branch Interim Report.

The RAIB also found the old-style buffer stop had only minimal capacity to absorb energy and was destroyed by train which mounted the platform.

The buffer stop was of an old design with only minimal capacity to absorb energy.

"The train destroyed it before overriding its remains to mount the platform where it came to rest.

– Rail Accident Investigation Branch Interim Report.

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Virgin's interim franchise agreement

Virgin train
Virgin to be awarded interim franchise to run West Cost Main Line Credit: PA

Rail operator Virgin has been asked to continue running the troubled West Coast Main Line for another few months, the Government said today.

The temporary fix has been proposed by the Department for Transport after its embarrassing U-turn over the award of a new franchise earlier this month.

Virgin's current franchise is due to end on December 9 but talks are under way about it remaining as operator for between nine and 13 months while a competition is run for an interim franchise agreement.

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