Falling panel smashed into train near Northampton

A metal panel fell from a freight train and smashed into the cab of a passing maintenance train near Northampton, MPs have been told.

The 8ft by 3ft sheet shattered the window, leaving the driver cowering from flying glass in his cab on the Northampton Loop on 18 July.

He later found a second fallen sheet on the track.

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said screws holding the panels in place came loose.

She added: "The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has identified the controls in place to manage and approve design and modifications to freight containers.

"The RAIB is currently considering their effectiveness and the industry's compliance with them."

An initial RAIB inquiry found the cab was struck at 17:55 BST, after the driver spotted a metal panel flapping from the side of the approaching container train.

He stopped his train as the other approached, avoided injury and called the signaller to request all trains be stopped on the adjacent line.

The driver found another similar panel beside the track near Rugby, MPs heard.

RAIB examined the containers and found evidence of loose and missing screws on other panels that had been fitted.

RAIB may make safety recommendations when it publishes its full report, MPs were told.

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