|Watford rail crash|
|Date||8 August 1996|
|Line||West Coast Main Line|
|Cause||Signal passed at danger|
|List of UK rail accidents by year|
In the early evening of Thursday 8 August 1996, a Class 321 passenger train operated by Network SouthEast travelling from London Euston on the West Coast Main Line Down Slow line at around 110 km/h (68 mph) passed a signal at danger. Having applied the brakes it eventually stopped 203 m (222 yards) past the signal and was traversing the junction between the Down Slow line and the Up Fast line. An empty Class 321 coaching stock train approaching at roughly 80 km/h (50 mph) collided with the stationary passenger train approximately 700 m south of Watford Junction whilst progressing across the connections from the Up Slow line to the Up Fast line.
The British Rail Class 321 alternating current (AC) electric multiple units (EMU) were built by British Rail Engineering Limited's York Works in three batches between 1988 and 1991. The design was successful and led to the development of the similar Class 320 and Class 322.
Network SouthEast (NSE) was one of the three passenger sectors of British Rail formed in 1982. NSE principally operated commuter trains in the London area and inter-urban services in densely populated South East England, although the network reached as far west as Exeter. Before 1986, the sector was known as London & South Eastern.
The West Coast Main Line (WCML) is one of the most important railway corridors in the United Kingdom, connecting the major cities of London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and Glasgow. It is one of the busiest mixed-traffic railway routes in Europe, carrying a mixture of intercity rail, regional rail, commuter rail and rail freight traffic. The core route of the WCML runs from London to Glasgow, with branches diverging to Northampton, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, totalling a route mileage of 700 miles (1,127 km). Services from London to North Wales and Edinburgh also run via the WCML; however the main London-Edinburgh route is the East Coast Main Line. In addition, several sections of the WCML form part of the suburban railway systems in London, Coventry, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow, with many more smaller commuter stations, as well as providing links to more rural towns.
One person was killed and sixty-nine were injured, including four members of the train's crew. The person who was killed was Ruth Holland, book review editor of the British Medical Journal .
As a result of this accident, the train driver was charged with manslaughter by the Crown Prosecution Service on 10 January 1997, following an investigation by the British Transport Police. On 11 March 1998, the driver was acquitted at Luton Crown Court.
Manslaughter is a common law legal term for homicide considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is sometimes said to have first been made by the ancient Athenian lawmaker Draco in the 7th century BCE.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is the principal public prosecuting agency for conducting criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. It is headed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
The British Transport Police (BTP) is a national special police force that polices railways and light-rail systems in England, Scotland and Wales, for which it has entered into an agreement to provide such services. Seventy five percent of the force's funding comes from Britain's privatised train companies. British Transport Police officers do not have jurisdiction in Northern Ireland unless working under mutual aid arrangements for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, in which case any duties performed on a railway will be merely incidental to working as a constable in Northern Ireland.
In its report, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advised that there was insufficient evidence to justify legal proceedings against the other involved parties, namely Railtrack and Network SouthEast.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in Great Britain. It is a non-departmental public body of the United Kingdom with its headquarters in Bootle, England. In Northern Ireland, these duties lie with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland. The HSE was created by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and has since absorbed earlier regulatory bodies such as the Factory Inspectorate and the Railway Inspectorate though the Railway Inspectorate was transferred to the Office of Rail and Road in April 2006. The HSE is sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions. As part of its work, HSE investigates industrial accidents, small and large, including major incidents such as the explosion and fire at Buncefield in 2005. Though it formerly reported to the Health and Safety Commission, on 1 April 2008, the two bodies merged.
Railtrack was a group of companies that owned the track, signalling, tunnels, bridges, level crossings and all but a handful of the stations of the British railway system from 1994 until 2002. It was created as part of the privatisation of British Rail, listed on the London Stock Exchange, and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. In 2002, after experiencing major financial difficulty, most of Railtrack's operations were transferred to the state-controlled non-profit company Network Rail. The remainder of Railtrack was renamed RT Group plc and eventually dissolved on 22 June 2010.
Following delays caused by the criminal proceedings against the driver, the HSE and the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) jointly published its Report into the railway accident at Watford South Junction on 8 August 1996on 29 April 1998, a summary version was published on the internet on 21 May 1998.
The HSE and the ORR concluded in its incident report that there were a number of mitigating factors that contributed to the incident.
The Ladbroke Grove rail crash was a rail accident which occurred on 5 October 1999 at Ladbroke Grove in London, United Kingdom. With 31 people killed and more than 258 injured, this remains one of the worst rail accidents in Britain. This was the second major accident on the Great Western Main Line in just over two years, the first being the Southall rail crash of September 1997, a few miles west of this accident. Both crashes would have been prevented by an operational automatic train protection (ATP) system, wider fitting of which had been rejected on cost grounds. This severely damaged public confidence in the management and regulation of safety of Britain's privatised railway system.
Watford Junction is a railway station that serves Watford, Hertfordshire. The station is on the West Coast Main Line (WCML), 17 miles 34 chains from London Euston and the Abbey Line, a branch line to St Albans. Journeys to London take between 16 and 52 minutes depending on the service used: shorter times on fast non-stop trains and slower on the stopping Watford DC line services. Trains also run to Clapham Junction and East Croydon via the West London Line. The station is a major hub for local bus services and the connecting station for buses to the Harry Potter studio tour. The station is located north of a viaduct over the Colne valley and immediately south of Watford Tunnel.
There have been four completely unrelated railway accidents in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, England, one in 1898, one in 1899, one in 1946 and the most recent in 2002.
The Train Protection & Warning System (TPWS) is a train protection system used throughout the two UK passenger main-line railway networks, and in Victoria, Australia.
Established in 1840, HM Railway Inspectorate is the British organisation responsible for overseeing safety on Britain's railways and tramways. Previously a separate non-departmental public body it was, from 1990 to April 2006, part of the Health and Safety Executive, then was transferred to the Office of Rail and Road and finally ceased to exist in May 2009 when it was renamed the Safety Directorate. However, in the Summer of 2015 its name has been re-established as the safety arm of ORR. August 2015 being the 175th anniversary of its founding.
The Waterfall rail accident was a train accident that occurred on 31 January 2003 near Waterfall, New South Wales, Australia. The train derailed, killing seven people aboard, including the train driver.
A signal passed at danger (SPAD), in railway terminology of many countries, including Australia, India and the UK, occurs when a train passes a stop signal without authority to do so. The United States's National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which investigates railway accidents in that country, typically terms this as running a red signal.
On the morning of 12 December 1988, a crowded passenger train crashed into the rear of another train that had stopped at a signal just south of Clapham Junction railway station in London, and subsequently sideswiped an empty train travelling in the opposite direction. A total of 35 people were killed in the collision, while 484 were injured.
The Southall rail crash occurred on 19 September 1997, on the Great Western Main Line at Southall, west London. An InterCity 125 passenger train failed to slow down in response to warning signals and collided with a freight train crossing its path, causing seven deaths and 139 injuries.
The Colwich rail crash occurred on the evening of Friday 19 September 1986 at Colwich Junction, Staffordshire, England. It was significant in that it was a high speed collision between two packed express trains. One driver was killed, but no passengers were killed, because of the great strength of the rolling stock involved, which included examples of Mk1, Mk2 and Mk3 coaches.
On 8 March 1996, a Transrail freight train travelling from Mossend in Glasgow to Willesden in London, derailed after an axle on a wagon carrying liquid carbon dioxide failed due to fatigue at Rickerscote 1.4 miles (2.2 km) south of Stafford. Almost immediately after the derailment, a Travelling Post Office mail train hauled by a Rail Express Systems British Rail Class 86 electric locomotive collided with a section of the derailed freight train on the adjacent line and fouled the path of the TPO mail train. One person, a mail sorter, was killed in the crash and twenty others including the driver of the mail train were injured.
Over the latter years of the 19th and early years of the 20th centuries, Penistone in Yorkshire gained a name as an accident black-spot on Britain's railway network; indeed, it could be said to hold the title of the worst accident black-spot in the country. The main line through the town was the Woodhead route of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway between Sheffield Victoria and Manchester, London Road. The line was heavily graded with a summit some 400 yards inside the eastern portal of the Woodhead tunnel.
There have been three completely unrelated major rail accidents and one notable incident near Winsford in Cheshire:
Two rail accidents have occurred near Castlecary, Scotland. One of these was in 1937 and one in 1968. Both events involved rear-end collisions, and caused the deaths of 35 and 2 people respectively.
The Darlington rail accident occurred on the evening of 27 June 1928 when a parcels train and an excursion train collided head on at Darlington Bank Top railway station in County Durham, England. The accident was caused by the parcels train driver passing a signal at danger, due to misunderstanding the signalling layout in an unfamiliar part of the station. This accident resulted in the deaths of 25 people and the serious injury of 45 people.
The Spa Road Junction rail crash was an accident on the British railway system which occurred during the peak evening rush hour of 8 January 1999 at Spa Road Junction in Bermondsey, southeast London.
The Norton Fitzwarren rail crash occurred on 11 November 1890, at Norton Fitzwarren station on the Great Western Railway, approximately two miles south-west of Taunton in Somerset. A special boat train carrying passengers from Plymouth to Paddington collided with a goods train that was being shunted on the main line. Ten passengers were killed, and eleven people were seriously injured. Another significant accident occurred at Norton Fitzwarren in 1940.
The Santiago de Compostela derailment occurred on 24 July 2013, when an Alvia high-speed train travelling from Madrid to Ferrol, in the north-west of Spain, derailed at high speed on a bend about 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) outside of the railway station at Santiago de Compostela. Out of 222 people on board, around 140 were injured and 80 died.
The Wootton Bassett SPAD incident refers to a railway incident in the United Kingdom on 7 March 2015, where a steam-hauled charter train passed a signal at danger (SPAD) and subsequently came to a stand across a high-speed mainline junction. Another train, that had right of way, had passed through the junction 44 seconds earlier and no collision occurred nor was any damage done. The incident occurred near Wootton Bassett Junction, Wiltshire.
On 9 November 2016, a tram operated by Tramlink, a light rail tram system serving Croydon and surrounding areas in South London, England, derailed and overturned on a sharp bend approaching a junction. There were seven fatalities with 62 other people injured; nineteen of them sustained serious injuries. The tram was carrying 69 passengers. It was the first tram incident in the United Kingdom in which passengers were killed since 1959.