Train smashes into farming machinery at 66mph

The train driver suffered minor injuries and damage was caused to the train and 780 metres of track due to the collision in Cambridgeshire.

17 October 2022

A train travelling at 66mph crashed into farming machinery because a tractor was driven over a level crossing without permission, an investigation has found.

The train driver suffered minor injuries and damage was caused to the train and 780 metres of track due to the collision in Cambridgeshire at 9am on August 19 last year, according to a report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

The accident at Kisby level crossing between Whittlesey and March involved a freight train operated by GB Railfreight carrying containers to the Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk, and farming machinery being towed by a tractor.

When the train driver realised the tractor was about to go over the tracks, he activated the emergency brake.

He then left his seat with the intention of taking shelter in a corridor but when the crash happened, he was still at the back of the driving cab and was showered by debris as the locomotive’s windows were smashed.

The locomotive and one wagon derailed.

The machinery was destroyed but the tractor driver was uninjured.

Network Rail had already put Kisby in one of its highest risk categories due to its frequent use and the glare from the sun.

Users of the crossing are required to telephone a railway signaller who will grant permission to cross if there is enough time based on the location of approaching trains.

The RAIB said the crash happened because the tractor driver was not told about the procedure by his employer and believed he could cross safely by looking for trains.

Investigators found that Network Rail was “not effectively managing the safe use of Kisby”.

It made safety recommendations to the government-owned company and the Health and Safety Executive and has written to several organisations representing farmers asking them to remind their members of the importance of level crossing procedures.

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