Wiltshire

Probe as train stopped over busy Wiltshire junction

Wootton Bassett junction Image copyright other
Image caption The train stopped across the Wootton Bassett junction after ignoring a warning

An investigation has begun after a steam train apparently ignored a danger warning and ended up stopping over a busy railway junction in Wiltshire.

The train was travelling from Bristol Temple Meads to Southend when the incident happened on Saturday 7 March.

Investigators say the train passed a section of track which should have automatically triggered its brakes.

An initial probe has found evidence the driver did stop and eventually halted the train at a later "danger signal".

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said the train stopped across the two lines of the main route from Swindon to Bristol Parkway.

The junction is where the main line to Bristol Temple Meads and South Wales converge and is used by dozens of high speed Intercity trains each day.

As the train approached the Wootton Bassett Junction, which was the subject of a temporary speed limit, a magnet on the track should have triggered an audible and visual warning.

Brakes 'cancelled'

But the driver did not acknowledge this warning and an automatic brake system began to apply which should have stopped the train.

RAIB said in these circumstances the driver should have stopped and contacted the signaller for further instructions.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Dozens on First Great Western Trains travel on the route each day

But the preliminary investigation found "evidence showing that the driver and fireman instead took an action which cancelled" the automatic braking.

At the next signal, the driver was "unable to control the speed of the train".

When the driver approached the danger signal there was "insufficient distance remaining to bring the train to a stand" meaning it stopped across the junction.

RAIB said it had found no evidence that the signals or automatic brake systems were malfunctioning at the time.

It will now carry out a full investigation focussing on the driver's action and the train's safety system.

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