The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) recently completed a preliminary examination into the collision between a delivery van and a train that occurred at Home Farm user worked level crossing, near Alsager, at around 13:00 hrs on Saturday 11 February 2023.
RAIB’s preliminary examination found that the accident occurred because the van was driven onto the level crossing area when a train was approaching. While the van driver was able to stop the van before the train reached the crossing, the front of the van remained close enough to the rails to be struck by the train. Although the train driver saw the van around 3 to 4 seconds before reaching the crossing and applied the brakes and sounded the warning horn, the train was still travelling at about 30 mph (48 km/h) when the collision occurred. Neither the van driver nor anybody on the train was injured, although the collision caused serious damage to the van and some damage to the train.
The correct method of operation at Home Farm user worked level crossing is described on the signs at the crossing which require the drivers of all vehicles to contact the signaller and get permission to cross the railway. This is because vehicle drivers cannot see far enough along the railway line to be able to tell whether it is safe to cross. Records show there was no call made to the signaller to ask for permission to cross at Home Farm on this occasion.
RAIB has reviewed the findings of the preliminary examination and will not be conducting a full investigation into this incident. However we are concerned that this incident is very similar to one which occurred at Frognal Farm level crossing in October 2017 (RAIB report 12/2018) also involving a delivery vehicle.
RAIB has written to the delivery company and asked it to brief its drivers about the correct use of this type of level crossing and to raise this issue at any cross-industry forums which it is a member of. We have sent copies of this letter to Network Rail, the Office of Rail and Road, the Department for Transport and the Health and Safety Executive, so that they are aware of the contents.
RAIB is aware that the Department for Transport is proposing to introduce new signs for user worked level crossings such as Home Farm in response to previous RAIB recommendations.