Northern Ireland

Firm fined after train hit digger bucket left on line

RAIB examined the aftermath of the accident in 2016 Image copyright Rail Accident Investigation Branch
Image caption The Rail Accident Investigation Branch examined the aftermath of the accident in 2016

A firm has been fined for a "major" safety breach after a passenger train crashed into construction equipment left on the Belfast to Dublin railway.

The six-carriage train struck an excavator bucket which had been left on the track near Lisburn, County Antrim, in February 2016.

There were eight passengers and three crew on board, but according to Translink no-one was injured.

Northern Excavators Ltd was ordered to pay £9,092 in fines and court costs.

'High standards'

The company, based in Hillsborough, County Down, had been sub-contracted to carry out overnight repairs to the cross-border railway track.

On 4 February 2016, an early-morning passenger train struck the abandoned excavator bucket near Knockmore Junction, about 1.25 miles (2km) from Lisburn station.

The train was the 06:25 GMT service from Belfast Great Victoria Street to Portadown in County Armagh and the incident happened about 06:53 GMT.

Image copyright RAIB
Image caption The bucket lodged under the train

Investigations were carried out by the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

In October 2016, the RAIB report found the train "hit the bucket at a speed of 57mph (92km/h) and then travelled 330m in an upright position before stopping".

It said the front of the train was "badly damaged and the track required repair".

The bucket became lodged under the fuel tank and the train had to be removed from the line by a crane.

This week, Northern Excavators was found guilty of failing to remove the excavator bucket from the line.

It also failed to put in place adequate safety precautions during the repairs, which "could have resulted in passengers being hurt or even killed", the health and safety executive said.

"This case highlights the dangers of railway maintenance with inadequate safe systems of working," said HSENI inspector Linda Murphy.

"Appropriate attention must therefore be given by those who work on such activities, to ensure that high standards of safety control are in place at all times."