Points failure not sabotage caused Potters Bar rail crash

A progress report on the Potters Bar train accident, in which seven people died and more than 70 were injured last May, has found that the most likely cause of the derailment was the "poor" condition of points.

The Board believes that the poor condition resulted from "inappropriate adjustment" and "insufficient maintenance" for their operating environment and safety functions, probably arising from the "failures of management systems".

The Board said that it was satisfied that no evidence has yet been established to support speculation about sabotage or deliberate unauthorised interference and that an explanation for the failure in points can be based on the evidence of their poor condition.

Key conclusions from the technical investigation include that four main factors contributed to the failure of points 2182A: components were in poor condition; nuts to secure the right-hand end of the rear stretcher bar and the left-hand end of the front stretcher bar were absent from the ends of the bars; and the lock stretcher bar failed by fatigue, broke and became disengaged from the bracket fixing it to the right-hand switch rail.

The report also pointed out that the train was being driven normally and within the permissible speed.

Dr Mike Weightman, Chair of the Board, said: "We hope that the lessons from the derailment are learnt and that the industry moves forward. In making our recommendations, we are not saying the rail network is unsafe or that the regulatory regime is ineffectual, and we welcome the recent progress made, particularly since the advent of Network Rail."


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