‘Ambiguous documentation’ caused Neville Hill collision

A HEAD-ON collision between an HST and an Intercity Express at Neville Hill depot in Leeds a year ago was caused by poor instructions about the software on board the Intercity Express, according to the Rail Accident Investigation Branch.

Although the collision on 13 November 2019 between the empty trains was at low speed, the noses of both trains were badly damaged. No one was hurt.

The RAIB said ‘the collision occurred because the driver of the Intercity Express Train was focused on reinstating an on-board system which he had recently isolated,’ instead of concentrating on controlling the train.

The report continues: ‘The driver had isolated the on-board system at Leeds station because he had been unable to correctly set up the train management system. He had been unable to do this because ambiguous documentation from Hitachi, the train manufacturer, had led to LNER misunderstanding the required process for setting up the train management system when developing the content of its driver training programme.’

A related factor was that ‘the driver’s lack of adequate familiarity with the train probably arose because LNER had not recognised that his training needs were greater than for his peers’, the RAIB added.

It has made five recommendations. Two are addressed to LNER and relate to correcting its understanding of the setup of the train management system and ensuring that the documentation provided by Hitachi has not led to any other safety problems. In addition, Hitachi is being advised to look again at the crashworthiness of its IETs in low-speed collisions, while LNER is recommended to assess the risk of a derailment of an Intercity Express Train, again in a low speed collision.

The RAIB will also be considering whether the crashworthiness standard should be modified.

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