Slippery rails caused Chester Railway Station crash

Lack of adhesion between the wheels of a Virgin train and the track caused it to crash into the buffers at  Chester Railway Station.

This is the preliminary finding  of an investigation by the Rail  Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) into the November 20 incident which left two passengers  slightly injured.

The RAIB’s full investigation  will examine the train’s braking  system, adhesion conditions at  the time and the condition of the  rails.

An initial report says the 10.10am service from London Euston to Chester was approaching  the station when the driver applied the brakes to reduce the  speed in line with the 20mph  speed limit into the platforms.

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Lack of adhesion between the wheels of a Virgin train and the track caused it to crash into the buffers at  Chester Railway Station.

This is the preliminary finding  of an investigation by the Rail  Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) into the November 20 incident which left two passengers  slightly injured.

The RAIB’s full investigation  will examine the train’s braking  system, adhesion conditions at  the time and the condition of the  rails.

An initial report says the 10.10am service from London Euston to Chester was approaching  the station when the driver applied the brakes to reduce the  speed in line with the 20mph  speed limit into the platforms.

The weather had been dry but a  rain shower was just starting and  the RAIB says “adhesion between the wheels and rails was reduced”.

The report adds: “The train’s  wheel slide protection system detected 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.

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“Consequently, the emergency  brakes were applied by train protection and warning system and  the driver pressed the emergency  stop button very shortly afterwards. The combination of emergency braking and the detection  of wheel slide triggered the automatic sanding system on the leading vehicle to drop sand onto the  rail head.

“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.”

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

Investigators will look at similar  events; notably a series of low  adhesion events in autumn 2005.

RAIB’s inquiry is independent  of any investigation by the Office  of Rail Regulation. It will publish  its findings, including any recommendations to improve safety

“As the train approached the  platform the driver lightly applied  the brakes again but the wheels  immediately started to slide. Despite the immediate automatic activation of the wheel slide protection system, the train’s deceleration was insufficient to bring it  down to a safe speed as it moved  along the platform.