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Train drivers were 'so tired' they passed signals at danger

Two train drivers were so tired - or "so fatigued" - that they passed signals at danger, at a junction to the west of Reading Station.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch said both incidents happened because the drivers had not had enough sleep and, therefore, were unable to properly control the trains.

This was, in part, due to the rest facilities at Acton not being 'fit for purpose', and because the drivers were nearing the end of a long night shift.

Train signs at red Credit: PA Images

The first incident happened at 0822 on 28th March 2015, when a freight train running from Acton to Westbury, operated by DB Schenker Rail (UK), passed a signal at danger at Reading Westbury Line Junction.

A similar incident occurred at 06:11 hrs on 3 November 2015 when another freight train, forming the same service from Acton to Westbury, and operated by the same company, passed a signal at danger at Ruscombe Junction, about seven miles east of Reading.

RAIB began an investigation into both of these incidents following the latter event at Ruscombe Junction, owing to the similarities between them.

"Both incidents occurred because the train drivers involved were too fatigued to properly control their trains; both drivers stated that they momentarily fell asleep on the approach to the signals concerned.

"Neither driver reported as unfit for duty, which was also causal to the incidents. The investigation identified underlying factors associated with supervision and management at the drivers’ home depot in Westbury, and with the general approach to the management of fatigue within the company."

– Rail Accident Investigation Branch

As a result of this investigation, RAIB has made three recommendations covering shift planning at Westbury depot, managing people who may be suffering from tiredness, or identifying them, and look at the risk of fatigue.

RAIB has also identified two learning points concerning the importance of preparing for duty and reporting fatigue, and the role of napping (and facilities for such) within a fatigue risk management system.

Simon French, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents said: "An admission of tiredness should not be seen as a weakness - it may be the unavoidable consequence of the work and home demands placed on a driver.

"This report has highlighted the ‘real-world’ experience of freight train drivers. By necessity, many freight trains must operate at night and many drivers are required to work long and irregular shifts, often during night hours.

"This means that drivers must accommodate their sleep, home responsibilities, social life and commuting in the hours that remain – and this can be a challenge. For this reason I urge freight operating companies, their employees and trade unions to work together to find practical ways of reducing fatigue at work."

Strong winds close the i360 tower on Brighton beach

Strong winds have closed the i360. The moving observation tower - the tallest in the world - is on Brighton beach. Staff are closely monitoring the weather and say it is due to improve soon.

Brighton's i360 observation tower - the tallest moving one in the world Credit: ITV Meridian

Only last month, the attraction broke down as part of "teething problems" leaving passengers stuck in the viewing pod. Specialist engineers were called in to work on it.

The i360 opened in August and is expected to welcome around 70,000 visitors a year who can enjoy panoramic views of the Sussex coastline and South Downs national park. The pod climbs to 450 feet (138 metres).

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Heathrow third runway: 5,000 new jobs, 25,000 more flights - and a congestion charge

Heathrow Airport says it will create 5,000 new jobs over the next five years if it gets approval for a third runway. It also plans a controversial congestion charge and a ban on night flights before 0530.

The airport revealed radical expansion plans today ahead of a possible third runway that could open in 2025. The plans will be subject to consultation and Government approval.

It will also spent tens of millions of pounds on insulation and other measures to help reduce nose for residents.

Heathrow wants a third runway Credit: ITV News

Overall flight numbers will rise by 25,000 a year with four million more passengers. The airport says new technology will allow this without causing more delays for existing flights.

The airport says the measures will help keep Britain competitive after Brexit with new links from airports in the UK and around the world and it will help boost the economy.

The measures are dependant on a third runway being approved. Gatwick, meanwhile, wants its plans approved - for a second runway - rather than Heathrow.

Heathrow's flight path passes over homes in Berkshire Credit: PA Images

While the restriction on night flights will be welcome the 25,000 extra flights a year will be seen as extra noise and misery for hundreds of thousands under the flight paths by critics.

Here are the main points from the proposals to be implemented by 2021 ahead of a third runway being approved. Full details will be revealed at the Tory conference on Monday.

  • Estimated 5,000 new jobs.
  • £1.5 billion pound boost to the economy after Brexit.
  • 25,000 extra flights a year. New technology and better use of existing runways will achieve this.
  • Four million extra passengers a year.
  • Congestion charge considered. This could be a new drop-off charge, increased car parking charges or a scheme similar to congestion charging in London. This is to help reduce emissions, fund new public transport initiatives and ensure fifty per cent of passengers arrive by public transport by 2030.
  • No night flights before 0530 which is an hour later than at present
  • £60 million spent on noise insulation for homes under the flight path
  • New monitoring equipment to ensure noise levels are not broken.
  • Better facilities for cyclists, electric cars and green transport.

UK's leading ports group backs demands for urgent improvements to south's roads

Demands for urgent improvements to one of the region's busiest and most important trunk roads have been backed today by one of the South's biggest employers, Associated British Ports. Southampton docks director Alastair Welch says it's vital the A 34 is upgraded as soon as possible.

Thousands of lorries use the road every day, travelling from destinations in the Midlands and the North to the docks. But frequent accidents cause lengthy and costly delays. Here's Richard Jones.

Major delays after serious accident in Hampshire

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RMT announces more Southern strike dates

Strikes are planned in October, November and December Credit: Press Association

The rail union, RMT, have confirmed a series of strikes in the row over the role of guard on Southern rail trains.

Union bosses say Southern Rail is insistent on removing the safety-trained guards from the trains. It's a critical role that the RMT and disability campaigners say must stay.

The RMT describes the company's decision as a "blatant disregard for the safety and security of passengers and staff alike", leaving it with no alternative but to declare [strike] action"

These strikes are scheduled to take place:

  • 00.01 on Tuesday 11th October and 23.59 on Thursday 13th October
  • 00.01 on Tuesday 18th October and 23.59 on Thursday 20th October
  • 00.01 on Thursday 3rd November and 23.59 on Saturday 5th November
  • 00.01 on Tuesday 22nd November and 23.59 on Wednesday 23rd November
  • 00.01 on Tuesday 6th December and 23.59 on Thursday 8th December

Here is the RMT's full statement:

Yet again our members are being forced to take industrial action in a bid to maintain a safe and secure service on Southern. Govia Thameslink and the Government have made it clear that they have no interest in resolving this dispute. Instead they have begun the process of bulldozing through the drive towards wholesale Driver Only Operation (DOO) without agreement and without any concern for the impact on safety, security and disability access. Last week there was a train derailment near Watford that involved two trains. The Guards on both trains played a vital role in protecting the passengers and the trains in what were extremely frightening circumstances. If the train had been DOO and without a Guard the consequences would have been far worse. This week we reached a deal with Scotrail that we are recommending for acceptance in a referendum of our members, that guarantees a fully competent Conductor/Guard on every new train. This agreement protects passengers, and guarantees a second safety trained member of staff on board a train, who can assist if there is an incident such as we recently saw near Watford. If an agreement can be reached on Scotrail, then an agreement can also be made on Southern. In the light of these recent developments it is disgraceful that neither the company or the Government are prepared to engage and are continuing to attempt to impose DOO in the interests of putting profit before safety. We call on them to get round the negotiating table as an urgent priority."

– RMT General Secretary Mick Cash

Amputees describe their Greenland adventure

It's less than three years since Alex Lewis had all four limbs amputated - after contracting a rare Strep A infection. Incredibly he's just kayaked more than 100 miles around Greenland.

It's all thanks to the Pilgrim Bandits - a charity set up to help amputee soldiers. They believe having no legs is no reason to give up sky diving, skiing or any other physical sport.

If you would like to know more about Alex and the charity, check here and here.

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