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An investigation has been launched into trains speeding through the site of the Stonehaven rail crash despite emergency restrictions being in place over landslip fears.
The RAIB said the two trains travelled at more than double the speed limit between Laurencekirk and Portlethen stations in Aberdeenshire in December last year.
“Between about 06:35 hrs and 07:40 hrs on 4 December 2020, two passenger trains passed through an emergency speed restriction located between Laurencekirk and Portlethen stations, at speeds of up to 100 mph (160 km/h), significantly exceeding the temporary maximum permitted speed of 40 mph (64 km/h),” a statement issued by RAIB said.
The first train was travelling north from Dundee to Inverness, the second was travelling south from Inverness to Edinburgh. The emergency restriction had been introduced as a precaution in case forecast heavy rainfall caused ground movements affecting the safety of the railway.
Neither of the train drivers was aware of the emergency speed restriction at the time they drove their trains over the affected section of track. The events were identified after a Network Rail signaller noticed the relatively short time taken for the second train to pass through the area. The first overspeed was then identified using electronic records of train movements. There were no injuries or damage as a result of these incidents.
RAIB’s preliminary examination found no evidence that any other trains which used the line on December 4 did not observe the speed restriction.
However, until the second overspeed was identified by the signaller, the only notification to drivers was a printed notice at their booking on points. Lineside signage was not provided by Network Rail processes applicable to this type of speed restriction.
After the second overspeed, the method of working was changed so trains were stopped shortly before reaching the restricted area while signallers reminded drivers about the reduced maximum permitted speed.
Three people died on August 12, 2020 when a ScotRail service hit a pile of washed-out rocks and gravel before derailing.
The section of line between Dundee and Aberdeen was closed for three months following the crash, and it reopened just over a month before the trains broke the speed restriction.
Those who died in the Stonehaven crash were driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62.
After the incident on August 12, Network Rail introduced a range of additional safety measures, including inspections of high-risk sites, and launched two taskforces.
This article first appeared on www.therailwayhub.co.uk
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