Whittlesey - collision between freight train and tractor. (19/08/21)

Peter Sarf

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Yes. It has occurred to me as well. The red background does not look like instructions. The numbered steps do look like instructions.

As for Pelican crossings. There are nowadays those that have the green pedestrian light at waist level on the same side of the road as the pedestrian waiting to cross. As a pedestrian I have really not yet got used to this change. This is sometimes facing the car driver and has fazed me as a car driver before. But in this case the railway crossing tractor driver could assume a line-side signal is similar to the more modern Pelican Crossing signal and obey the wrong signal.

I think cases where the signal can be viewed by both parties is a very stupid design.
 
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Ianno87

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. This is sometimes facing the car driver and has fazed me as a car driver before.

Normally it shouldn't the logic is that it is placed so that the pedestrian, in viewing the signal, is faced towards approaching traffic (so it should not be visible to approaching traffic)
 

Peter Sarf

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Normally it shouldn't the logic is that it is placed so that the pedestrian, in viewing the signal, is faced towards approaching traffic (so it should not be visible to approaching traffic)
That is what I would hope/expect but on a narrow single carriage way road the signal on the right is still visible. More visible than the higher up traffic light which tends to disappear into the roof of the car !. I have long legs so have the drivers seat further back. On a dual carriageway near me there is a pedestrian slight on the pedestrians left and right so one or other light is always visible to car drivers.
 

alxndr

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I'm not familiar with the operation of modern farm crossings (I realise it's not possible to generalise). But, pushing as green button to operate the gates suggests either that they are power operated, or at least that releases a lock.
Pogo is Power Operated Gate Opener. You press the button and both gates open/close simultaneously. The idea is that it reduces the need for the driver to walk over the crossing four times to open and shut the gates.
Another thought from one not aware of the details. Is there any practical way that the release of gates could be interlocked with signals or track circuits? I realise that this couldn't address excessively slow movements across a crossing. It's probably been thought of.
It would, in theory, be possible, but it would require a lot more work as it would involve alterations to the signalling circuitry and all the extensive testing that goes with that. It goes from being a simple gate opener to something safety critical. Additionally, the track circuits might not be in the correct location to lock them out for an appropriate length of time and treadles might be deemed necessary to back up the operation of the track circuits as per standard crossings.

You could, again in theory, link it in to something such as the overlay axle counters used for EBIgate crossings (crossings that show red/green lights but have their own sensors rather than using existing train detection equipment). That would avoid the need to alter signalling circuits but its still turning it into something more safety critical and that will always carry more expense.

If you need to phone the signal box for permission to cross, there must be communication between the crossing and the box. So why isn't the green button in the signal box?
It's far simpler to install a telephone circuit than it is to install a control circuit.
 

LAX54

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If you need to phone the signal box for permission to cross, there must be communication between the crossing and the box. So why isn't the green button in the signal box?
Signaller has enough to do without having to 'press buttons' to open gates (and press again to close) multiply that by a few crossings, then it starts to get complicated and time consuming. The sign says STOP ALWAYS CALL SIGNALLER, if you cant understand that, you should not be driving.

Signal here refers to a railway signal that is there for train drivers? If so, I don't understand how anyone could think such a signal could be for them wishing to cross the line. A signal for a crossing will be positioned clearly and be facing the person wishing to cross, e.g. pelican crossings or traffic lights.
or it is being used as an 'excuse' and grasping at straws for a reason that the instructions were ignored.
 

dk1

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or it is being used as an 'excuse' and grasping at straws for a reason that the instructions were ignored.
Sounds very much like it to me. They will see straight through this pathetic excuse.
 

LAX54

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Sounds very much like it to me. They will see straight through this pathetic excuse.
Indeed, looked at 'Routeview' could not see any signals close by that could be 'confused', anyway they would be pointing the wrong way, and having seen another picture of the incident, it just looks like he thought he had time, and was about 20 seconds from safety, but a train covers a lot of ground in 20 seconds.
 

dk1

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Indeed, looked at 'Routeview' could not see any signals close by that could be 'confused', anyway they would be pointing the wrong way, and having seen another picture of the incident, it just looks like he thought he had time, and was about 20 seconds from safety, but a train covers a lot of ground in 20 seconds.
I have no patience whatsoever. Boils my urine.
 

AndyPJG

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The signage isn’t great. I imagine some people reading this will just read the “1, 2, 3” points, and not the text above it (even though it’s on a red background). I am not making excuses for them. Just suggesting what might happen. As a result the risk is increased unnecessarily.

This is exactly the observation noted by RAIB in its August 2018 Report 12/2018: Collision at Frognal Farm User Worked Crossing 23 October 2017. (https://assets.publishing.service.g...74a44bdd0822a/R122018_180823_Frognal_Farm.pdf)

Observations
Appropriateness of signage and wording

92 The signage was not clear, contained conflicting information and did not convey the most important action required to the crossing user.
...
96 The instructions are not concise and they do not capture the reader’s attention. The most important instruction on the sign, to contact the signaller for permission to cross, is not a numbered instruction, and it is therefore easy to overlook. In addition it is difficult to pick out in the white text on the red background.
 

GB

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This is exactly the observation noted by RAIB in its August 2018 Report 12/2018: Collision at Frognal Farm User Worked Crossing 23 October 2017. (https://assets.publishing.service.g...74a44bdd0822a/R122018_180823_Frognal_Farm.pdf)
Observations
Appropriateness of signage and wording

92 The signage was not clear, contained conflicting information and did not convey the most important action required to the crossing user.
...
96 The instructions are not concise and they do not capture the reader’s attention. The most important instruction on the sign, to contact the signaller for permission to cross, is not a numbered instruction, and it is therefore easy to overlook. In addition it is difficult to pick out in the white text on the red background.

The phoning the signaller not being part of a numbered instruction is a fact, the other parts appear to be RAIB opinion.
 

alistairlees

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This is exactly the observation noted by RAIB in its August 2018 Report 12/2018: Collision at Frognal Farm User Worked Crossing 23 October 2017. (https://assets.publishing.service.g...74a44bdd0822a/R122018_180823_Frognal_Farm.pdf)
I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing that. This is a really simple thing requiring a few copywriting drafts, the creation of some clear standards, and some user testing. A couple of weeks' work all told, for less than £10k.

Problem is, it's probably too small an amount for anyone to bother with. It's too obvious, simple, and doesn't require lots of consultancy / project management etc. And "words" are not really a concern of an engineering-led organisation, culturally.

All that needs to change.
 

alxndr

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Indeed, looked at 'Routeview' could not see any signals close by that could be 'confused', anyway they would be pointing the wrong way, and having seen another picture of the incident, it just looks like he thought he had time, and was about 20 seconds from safety, but a train covers a lot of ground in 20 seconds.
THS761 is approximately 400 meters to the east and would be facing the direction that would be visible from the crossing, so it is possible that a tractor driver could see a green light. Whether someone would be daft enough to somehow think that applied to them or meant that a train wasn't approaching, I don't know. I would have thought that it's fairly obvious that the signals along the railway are for trains, not road traffic. I would find it more likely that someone too lazy to phone would see the signal displaying a red and assume that meant it was safe.
The phoning the signaller not being part of a numbered instruction is a fact, the other parts appear to be RAIB opinion.
That is true, however, the RSSB Research into signs at private level crossings (T983) found that comprehension of the existing designs leaves something to be desired, and although it does not explicitly give the red background or separation between the initial paragraph and the numbered instructions as a cause, these factors are notably missing from their potential redesign. Unfortunately, this research was published in 2015 and I've not heard anything more about it since.
 

Clarence Yard

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It’s the DfT that needs to sort the signage requirement out, not NR, and the RAIB clearly recommended them to do it (in conjunction with the ORR) in the Frognal Farm report. They have not done so.

Considering this recommendation stemmed from a previous RAIB report, this lack of action is woeful.
 

AndyPJG

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It’s the DfT that needs to sort the signage requirement out, not NR, and the RAIB clearly recommended them to do it (in conjunction with the ORR) in the Frognal Farm report. They have not done so.

Considering this recommendation stemmed from a previous RAIB report, this lack of action is woeful.
Not a recommendation, an 'observation'.
 

alistairlees

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It’s the DfT that needs to sort the signage requirement out, not NR, and the RAIB clearly recommended them to do it (in conjunction with the ORR) in the Frognal Farm report. They have not done so.

Considering this recommendation stemmed from a previous RAIB report, this lack of action is woeful.
The Urgent Safety Advice in Appendix D of the report, which was issued in November 2017 (over 3.5 years ago!) was directed to Network Rail alone.

The main body of the report appears to be directed to Network Rail, ORR and DfT. This gives significant opportunity for buck passing. It would be better to issue it to one organisation alone.

Not a recommendation, an 'observation'.
It's a recommendation on page 38 of the report. Even worse, it looks like (according to the report) RAIB had previously recommended exactly the same thing in 2015.
 

Dr Hoo

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The Urgent Safety Advice in Appendix D of the report, which was issued in November 2017 (over 3.5 years ago!) was directed to Network Rail alone.

The main body of the report appears to be directed to Network Rail, ORR and DfT. This gives significant opportunity for buck passing. It would be better to issue it to one organisation alone.


It's a recommendation on page 38 of the report. Even worse, it looks like (according to the report) RAIB had previously recommended exactly the same thing in 2015.
Sounds like a reference to this 'POGO' report. Report 07/2016: Collision between train and tractor at Oakwood Farm User Worked Crossing
 

Taunton

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The sign says STOP ALWAYS CALL SIGNALLER, if you cant understand that, you should not be driving.
Quite apart from the general public still being considerably non-politically correct, and using the expression Signal Man instead, anyone with experience of agriculture nowadays (particularly in East Anglia, which has more than its fair share of such incidents) will know that a considerable proportion of farm hands, including those driving lorries etc, are nowadays from other countries with limited English, and/or experience of the UK Highway Code. Furthermore it's not as if the farmer in charge is working with their own employees and can ensure they are instructed. Many nowadays come through an agency and are hired on and off by the day, having to be instructed by the intermediary foreman in their own language, and not having encountered such a crossing ever before. As indeed I haven't either by car, despite a lifetime of driving on the road.

The RAIB report into the crossing accident near Sudbury a few years ago made this exact point, that the lorry driver was qualified by virtue of their Lithuanian driving licence, but the railway had assumed that all such drivers had been through UK HGV training.

R142011_110811_Sewage_Works_Lane.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)
 

LAX54

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THS761 is approximately 400 meters to the east and would be facing the direction that would be visible from the crossing, so it is possible that a tractor driver could see a green light. Whether someone would be daft enough to somehow think that applied to them or meant that a train wasn't approaching, I don't know. I would have thought that it's fairly obvious that the signals along the railway are for trains, not road traffic. I would find it more likely that someone too lazy to phone would see the signal displaying a red and assume that meant it was safe.

That is true, however, the RSSB Research into signs at private level crossings (T983) found that comprehension of the existing designs leaves something to be desired, and although it does not explicitly give the red background or separation between the initial paragraph and the numbered instructions as a cause, these factors are notably missing from their potential redesign. Unfortunately, this research was published in 2015 and I've not heard anything more about it since.
400 metres / quarter of a mile ! so just using the signal as an excuse ! looking at pictures of the crossing, it seems so simple to follow ! looks like he was a regular user and took a chance.

Quite apart from the general public still being considerably non-politically correct, and using the expression Signal Man instead, anyone with experience of agriculture nowadays (particularly in East Anglia, which has more than its fair share of such incidents) will know that a considerable proportion of farm hands, including those driving lorries etc, are nowadays from other countries with limited English, and/or experience of the UK Highway Code. Furthermore it's not as if the farmer in charge is working with their own employees and can ensure they are instructed. Many nowadays come through an agency and are hired on and off by the day, having to be instructed by the intermediary foreman in their own language, and not having encountered such a crossing ever before. As indeed I haven't either by car, despite a lifetime of driving on the road.

The RAIB report into the crossing accident near Sudbury a few years ago made this exact point, that the lorry driver was qualified by virtue of their Lithuanian driving licence, but the railway had assumed that all such drivers had been through UK HGV training.

R142011_110811_Sewage_Works_Lane.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)
There is a dirty great BIG sign that says : STOP. in the standard used in the Uk and Europe format
 

Bald Rick

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Quite apart from the general public still being considerably non-politically correct, and using the expression Signal Man instead, anyone with experience of agriculture nowadays (particularly in East Anglia, which has more than its fair share of such incidents) will know that a considerable proportion of farm hands, including those driving lorries etc, are nowadays from other countries with limited English, and/or experience of the UK Highway Code. Furthermore it's not as if the farmer in charge is working with their own employees and can ensure they are instructed. Many nowadays come through an agency and are hired on and off by the day, having to be instructed by the intermediary foreman in their own language, and not having encountered such a crossing ever before. As indeed I haven't either by car, despite a lifetime of driving on the road.

The RAIB report into the crossing accident near Sudbury a few years ago made this exact point, that the lorry driver was qualified by virtue of their Lithuanian driving licence, but the railway had assumed that all such drivers had been through UK HGV training.

R142011_110811_Sewage_Works_Lane.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)

It is, of course, the responsibility of the “Authorised User” of private crossings (such as this one) to ensure that anyone using the crossing understands how it is operated.

In the case of the accident at Sudbury - 11 years ago - the Lithuanian lorry driver knew exactly how to use the crossing correctly, evidenced by the voice recordings of his many, many, previous uses of it. Which is why he received a 5 year prison sentence.
 

Peter Sarf

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I would say it was sloppy or impatient operation by the tractor driver but that is not based on any facts. The only facts will be what recordings there are indicating previous abilities and how subjectively the signs could be interpreted.

The fact that those signs have raised concerns before indicates a lack of understanding of how a crossing user interprets things. These signs have been created by a railway operator (loosely put) who does not appear to have put themselves in the shoes of a person who is ignorant of railway operation.

The result is that the numbered instructions are all you need to know and have explained to you so as to be able to cross the railway. The paragraphs on the red background are not essential unless the crossing user understands the risks involved. The crossing user is unlikely to have a railway background so will not understand the risks involved. This leads to believing that "I was here first and have opened the gates".

Signaller has enough to do without having to 'press buttons' to open gates (and press again to close) multiply that by a few crossings, then it starts to get complicated and time consuming. The sign says STOP ALWAYS CALL SIGNALLER, if you cant understand that, you should not be driving.


or it is being used as an 'excuse' and grasping at straws for a reason that the instructions were ignored.
But it should be step number one in the list of steps. The numbered instruction below distracts from the "call the signaler".
THS761 is approximately 400 meters to the east and would be facing the direction that would be visible from the crossing, so it is possible that a tractor driver could see a green light. Whether someone would be daft enough to somehow think that applied to them or meant that a train wasn't approaching, I don't know. I would have thought that it's fairly obvious that the signals along the railway are for trains, not road traffic. I would find it more likely that someone too lazy to phone would see the signal displaying a red and assume that meant it was safe.

That is true, however, the RSSB Research into signs at private level crossings (T983) found that comprehension of the existing designs leaves something to be desired, and although it does not explicitly give the red background or separation between the initial paragraph and the numbered instructions as a cause, these factors are notably missing from their potential redesign. Unfortunately, this research was published in 2015 and I've not heard anything more about it since.
400m off to the side of the tractor drivers direction of travel does seem good enough to avoid confusion.

Yes it would be a lot clearer if step one was contact the signaler or whoever.
400 metres / quarter of a mile ! so just using the signal as an excuse ! looking at pictures of the crossing, it seems so simple to follow ! looks like he was a regular user and took a chance.


There is a dirty great BIG sign that says : STOP. in the standard used in the Uk and Europe format
STOP it might well say. Then pan down to what are obviously the instructions. It says :- 1) press the gate open button. Why is step one not contact the signaler ?.

Besides, on the subject of the "crossing operator" in the second paragraph, if the tractor driver is pressing the gate open button then in my mind that makes the tractor driver the crossing operator - the signal man does not operate anything on the crossing. Someone then might reasonably discount the two paragraphs on a red background if they assumed it was instructions to others to contact them - the crossing operator. If the tractor drivers English is not good enough then they will ignore the paragraphs on a red background.

At best you have two conflicting sets of instructions.
It is, of course, the responsibility of the “Authorised User” of private crossings (such as this one) to ensure that anyone using the crossing understands how it is operated.

In the case of the accident at Sudbury - 11 years ago - the Lithuanian lorry driver knew exactly how to use the crossing correctly, evidenced by the voice recordings of his many, many, previous uses of it. Which is why he received a 5 year prison sentence.
Yes the voice recording might show a previous level of competency.
 
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30907

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These signs have been created by a railway operator (loosely put) who does not appear to have put themselves in the shoes of a person who is ignorant of railway operation.
Or someone who is familiar with highway signage where white on red is an instruction to be obeyed. In this case
STOP and (if necessary) contact signaller.

Whereas the black on white are instructions for operating the crossing once you have obeyed the sign.

I agree they look too prominent - putting them on a separate, lower panel and increasing the size of the "small print" white on red might help.
 

Mcq

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Question - If there is a circuit between the phone at the crossing and the signaller, then there is probably a similar circuit in reverse.
Couldn't the 'gates open' button be dependant on the phone being off hook (call being made) - or better - since the signaller has now been 'disturbed' - couldn't he/she release the green button remotely.
i don't buy (in this day and age) that this can't be done reasonably effectively and at modest cost - may not be 'belt and braces 'ideal' - but means that the green button can't be pressed without the telephone being used.

If the rule is that the green button mustn't be used before the telephone has been - then interlock them so that it can't be?
 
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LIMA66

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Has been mentioned in local media here. The Tractor driver mistook the signal (which showed Green for 4L02), as permission to cross.
This is an interesting comment, the reason being we had a near miss a couple of months ago on my patch at a foot crossing where a member of the public (MOP) thought the distant signals (Up and Down road either side of the foot crossing) were showing green aspects and the said MOP thought the lights were for them to cross just as a train was heading towards them at 60mph.

Thankfully the driver stopped in time and just needed a change of underwear……
 
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plugwash

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"Wrong side" is when trains are trapped away from their depot.

There are a few EMT 158s temporarily living at Norwich. Crown Point can do basic fuel point maintenance to the EMT 158s (and do) but if they have a serious issue then NCP can't help.
Are they really trapped though? is it not possible to move units via Hitchin if they really need to get them to the other side.
 

LIMA66

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Out of interest how many trains are actually stuck the wrong side of this incident? I know from reading another thread on here that East Midlands have got a number of 158s stuck but are there any others?
We’ve had a lot more freight heading up and down the GEML vice across the fens due to this incident these past few days, so guessing freight are working around this incident well.
 

liamf656

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Are they really trapped though? is it not possible to move units via Hitchin if they really need to get them to the other side.
It is possible, and has happened before, albeit only a handful of times. In the times it’s happened they’ve been booked to reverse at Welwyn GC but instead reversed short at Hitchin. I think now it would just depend on whether the relevant staff are trained on that route (I have no idea but I wouldn’t expect many would be as it’s such a rarely used route), and if it’s worth doing such a move or waiting until Tuesday when the line reopens
 

GB

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Question - If there is a circuit between the phone at the crossing and the signaller, then there is probably a similar circuit in reverse.
Couldn't the 'gates open' button be dependant on the phone being off hook (call being made) - or better - since the signaller has now been 'disturbed' - couldn't he/she release the green button remotely.
i don't buy (in this day and age) that this can't be done reasonably effectively and at modest cost - may not be 'belt and braces 'ideal' - but means that the green button can't be pressed without the telephone being used.

If the rule is that the green button mustn't be used before the telephone has been - then interlock them so that it can't be?

You only need to phone for permission if you are crossing with vehicles or animals. Making the signaller operate the release adds to workload particularly where there could be 20+ such crossings on a signallers patch.
 

24Grange

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Nigel Harris from Rail Magazine once pointed out that hundreds of signs at a location such as a crossing or access point do not make us/them/user safer but merely lead to confusion - he published a photo accompanying showing about 30-40 different signs in close proximity. Each one sensible on their own, but leading to a billboard sized sign covered in different colours and typefaces and confusion.
 

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