Driver killed by passing Southern train ‘may have left cab to urinate or smoke cigarette’

Michal Olesiak was hit by a passing train at West Worthing station on 1 February 2022. Credit: ITV Meridian

A train driver struck and killed by a passing train in West Sussex may have left his cab to urinate or smoke a cigarette, an investigation has found.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said Michal Olesiak died on February 1 last year while the Southern train he had been driving was out of passenger service and stationary at a siding near West Worthing station.

At around 8.33pm he was hit by a passenger train travelling at 33mph.

It was dark at the time of the incident, and the crew onboard the moving train believed they had struck an animal so did not report the collision.

Mr Olesiak – who qualified as a train driver in March 2018 – was found dead at the scene at 9.06pm during an investigation into why his train had not moved as scheduled.

The RAIB said: “He most probably exited the train for a personal reason.

“This may have been to urinate or to smoke a cigarette, possibly in the belief that it was safe for him to be outside of his train.”

The report suggested that Mr Olesiak then entered the path of the approaching train after possibly slipping or tripping.

Flowers left at the scene at West Worthing station. Credit: ITV Meridian

The RAIB recommended that Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) - Southern’s parent company - ensured onboard staff had “adequate access to toilets across all of their routes”.

GTR chief operating officer Angie Doll said: “A year on from such a devastating event at West Worthing, I continue to offer my heartfelt condolences to Michal’s family, friends and colleagues.

“We have worked with both the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and Office for Road and Rail to fully support their investigations into this tragic incident.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…