RAIB report blames Sheffield train derailment on broken track screws

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has released its report into a freight train derailment at Sheffield station in November 2020.

The 34-wagon train was travelling at low speed near Sheffield station when it derailed on November 11, 2020.

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RAIB concluded that screws had been broken for “several weeks” before the incident but had been missed by Network Rail.

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A report into the derailment by the RAIB said track screws had failed several weeks, or perhaps months, before the derailment, but the failures had not been identified by Network Rail’s maintenance inspection activities.

The track gauge had widened because a number of track screws, that secured the rails and baseplates to the wooden bearers, had broken, allowing the rails to spread apart under the loads from passing trains. No one was injured.

RAIB has made four recommendations to Network Rail concerning the implementation of processes for identifying high derailment risk locations, the implementation of safety-critical changes to its processes, standards governing fitment of check rails, and track geometry data formats.

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RAIB has also identified three learning points for track maintenance staff alerting them to the need for effective management of track gauge in tightly curved track, the limitations of geometry alerts provided by static measuring equipment, and the importance of monitoring track geometry trends for the identification of track deterioration.

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Sam Hewitt

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