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

alxndr

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The acronym refers to the power operated gates. The crossing affected by this incident does not seem to be of the POGO type.
From the signage it does appear to be POGO, see my earlier post on this point:
I believe it is POGO, backed up by the sign visible in the picture posted on this railcam news article (right below). The writing on the sign isn't fantastically clear, but compared to a photograph of a POGO sign included in the Frognal Farm RAIB report (left below) it does look as though the text is the same and instructs users to press a button to open both gates as is the function of a POGO.
View attachment 101456
[Image shows two signs side by side, the one on the left considerably clearer than the one on the right. The instructions on the sign on the left read:

Always telephone before crossing with vehicles or animals to find out if there is time to cross
Tell the crossing operator if the vehicle is large or slow moving

  1. Push green button to open both gates
  2. Cross quickly
  3. Push green button to close both gates. Maximum penalty for not doing so £1000]
 
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sjm77

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My hunch however is that the tractor driver was complacent / lazy. But we shall have to wait and see. Making the signs clearer just helps avoid excuses which could make a difference in court.

I completely agree. For me most of this discussion has become a moot point about signage. If the tractor driver becomes complacent and ignores the signage it does not matter what that signage actually reads. The excuse that the tractor driver thought it was OK because there was a green railway signal 400 yards away confirms that the signage was not even considered!
 
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dk1

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I completely agree. For me most of this discussion has become a moot point about signage. If the tractor driver becomes complacent and ignores the signage it does not matter what that signage actually reads. The excuse that the tractor driver thought it was OK because their was a green railway signal 400 yards away confirms that the signage was not even considered!

Couldn’t agree more with your comments if I tried. Thanks.
 

LAX54

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Couldn’t agree more with your comments if I tried. Thanks.
Exactly, if you are not going to read a sign, it can be 10 foot tall and you'd still ignore it ! think the green signal excuse is just grabbing at straws
 

G Broughton

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From someone who had a conversation with the ‘railwaymen’ near the site on Saturday evening, it would appear that the gates were found in a permanently open position, presumably for that day’s movements across the crossing with there having been no contact perhaps ever with the signaller.
 

Tio Terry

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From someone who had a conversation with the ‘railwaymen’ near the site on Saturday evening, it would appear that the gates were found in a permanently open position, presumably for that day’s movements across the crossing with there having been no contact perhaps ever with the signaller.

If that turns out to be correct then it is very similar to what happened at Chivers crossing near Lakenheath. It resulted in the death of a driver when a trailer carrying carrots was struck by the train. The difference being that it was very foggy at the time. In this case the visibility is reported as being good. In the case of Chivers the gates were left permanently open because the farmer had built a carrot washing plant beside the river and the usage of the crossing - which was a dead end so every movement over it in one direction required one in the other to get back to the road - had increased massively. Telephones were provided but seldom used.

The nett result was that BR had to automate the level crossing and reduce line speed over it - although I believe that the linespeed was restored when the line was resignalled.
 

2HAP

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From someone who had a conversation with the ‘railwaymen’ near the site on Saturday evening, it would appear that the gates were found in a permanently open position, presumably for that day’s movements across the crossing with there having been no contact perhaps ever with the signaller.

A repeat of Dymchurch then?


The tractor driver did not use the crossing in accordance with the instructions on the sign. He was not very familiar with this level crossing, having only used it for one day prior to the day of the accident. The tractor driver neither opened and closed the gates each time he crossed, nor telephoned the railway before using the crossing. Neither this driver nor any other farm worker had contacted the railway for permission to cross while harvesting was in progress during the week leading up to the accident.
 

dk1

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The nett result was that BR had to automate the level crossing and reduce line speed over it - although I believe that the linespeed was restored when the line was resignalled.
Hi mate. The linespeed was restored long before then. I would guess it as the mid-90s when the 15mph ABCL/AOCL was replaced with a standard AHB permitting 75mph running to be restored in both directions
 

O L Leigh

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I completely agree. For me most of this discussion has become a moot point about signage. If the tractor driver becomes complacent and ignores the signage it does not matter what that signage actually reads. The excuse that the tractor driver thought it was OK because there was a green railway signal 400 yards away confirms that the signage was not even considered!

Totally agree. It’s what I’ve been alluding to throughout this thread.

From someone who had a conversation with the ‘railwaymen’ near the site on Saturday evening, it would appear that the gates were found in a permanently open position, presumably for that day’s movements across the crossing with there having been no contact perhaps ever with the signaller.

No doubt the RAIB will still look for (and no doubt find) some sort of learning point for the railway which some will seize upon as evidence of the railway’s culpability, but if this turns out to be true (and I have no reason to doubt it) it looks very much like the smoking gun. And I’ll wager that the answer to my insistent question ”Why did the tractor driver not see the train?” is ”Because he never bloody looked.”
 
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G Broughton

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My uncle (Arthur Broughton) was signalman on duty in the Shippea Hill ‘box at the time of the accident on the 3rd December 1976.
The Department of Transport report on the accident Item 25 :- “ Broughton explained that he could see Chivers Level Crossing from his signal box in clear weather and confirmed that on numerous occasions he saw vehicles traversing the crossing without telephonin him to ask if it was safe to cross.
To emphasise the low proportion of crossing users telephoning he quoted from the Train Register showing that from the 21st November up to the accident on the 3rd December a total of 9 calls had been received, while from the 6th - 20th December, following the accident, no less than 512 calls had been received asking if it was safe to cross, or over 40 each day “.

Also the report mentions an accident in December 1970, very similar to the 1976 one that occurred on the same crossing. A DMU struck a lorry on the crossing in thick fog and the driver of the train was killed.

Two totally unforgivable and avoidable accidents as is the case with the Kisby Crossing affair last Thursday morning.
 

O L Leigh

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A repeat of Dymchurch then?

Erm, well not really no.

In that one the tractor driver had stopped and was waiting, but he hadn't allowed for the size of the counterweight on the front of the tractor, didn't realise it was foul of the line until too late and had no time to reverse.
 

Tio Terry

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Hi mate. The linespeed was restored long before then. I would guess it as the mid-90s when the 15mph ABCL/AOCL was replaced with a standard AHB permitting 75mph running to be restored in both directions


Thanks for that, wasn't sure when it changed but went over that line 18 months ago and knew that it had changed then.

The real point was that it cost BR - not the farmer who had changed the usage of the crossing. I wonder if this will result in something similar where NR (or GBR) end up footing the bill for crossing improvements?
 

2HAP

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Erm, well not really no.

In that one the tractor driver had stopped and was waiting, but he hadn't allowed for the size of the counterweight on the front of the tractor, didn't realise it was foul of the line until too late and had no time to reverse.

I meant the blatant abuse by pinning the gates open and not once bothering to contact the signaller in over a week.
 

SignallerJohn

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There is a system of sorts, in that a UWC user should phone for permission to cross and then phone back once they have cleared the line and returned the gates to the closed position. However, this does rely on them phoning in the first place and not just taking matters into their own hands, and answering the signaller truthfully in regard to the status of the crossing after they have used it. It's not perfect and I know that it has a lot of holes in it that permit abuse.
A person crossing a UWC isn’t required to ring back when they are clear unless they are going to take over 3 minutes, or with a certain vehicle or animals and some other caveats.
 

philthetube

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The best way to remove the risk is - obviously - to close the crossing. Farm crossings are usually pretty simple to close, it just needs a lot of short term cash and land agents.
Can be very expensive to a field with no other access to the farm, heavy vehicles needing to cross rarely, maybe single figures for the year. A farmer could be also caused big issues over both vehicle and driver licencing if this required them to use public roads
 

DelW

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Can be very expensive to a field with no other access to the farm, heavy vehicles needing to cross rarely, maybe single figures for the year. A farmer could be also caused big issues over both vehicle and driver licencing if this required them to use public roads
In which case, the threat of possibly having the crossing closed *ought* to make the farmer more conscientious in ensuring that his drivers use it correctly.
 

philthetube

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In which case, the threat of possibly having the crossing closed *ought* to make the farmer more conscientious in ensuring that his drivers use it correctly.
Granted, but I was replying to a post concerning the ease of closure, in any case I am not sure that misuse would be a reason to block a legal right of passage, though I am happy to be informed that it is.
 

Taunton

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In which case, the threat of possibly having the crossing closed *ought* to make the farmer more conscientious in ensuring that his drivers use it correctly.
In many cases the railway cannot just close the crossing by their own decision. Most of these were put in at the time of construction of the railway, which severed existing land ownership, and thus needs negotiation and agreement.
 

Llanigraham

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In many cases the railway cannot just close the crossing by their own decision. Most of these were put in at the time of construction of the railway, which severed existing land ownership, and thus needs negotiation and agreement.

As an ex-RoW Officer for a Club and having studied Rights of Way in some detail, you often have to go back to the Enabling Act of the original Railway Company that built the line. In many cases that Act can have severed RoW's at the railway's boundaries, so each case has to be looked at in some detail.
 

furnessvale

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Can be very expensive to a field with no other access to the farm, heavy vehicles needing to cross rarely, maybe single figures for the year. A farmer could be also caused big issues over both vehicle and driver licencing if this required them to use public roads
I believe the cheapest option would be to buy the farm then sell off the various fields to neighbouring farms but eliminating the need for railway crossings. Some farmers may get cheap fields but cheaper for the railway than fully monitored crossings.
 

chorleyjeff

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I believe the cheapest option would be to buy the farm then sell off the various fields to neighbouring farms but eliminating the need for railway crossings. Some farmers may get cheap fields but cheaper for the railway than fully monitored crossings.
Only if the owner wants to sell !
 

trebor79

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I believe the cheapest option would be to buy the farm then sell off the various fields to neighbouring farms but eliminating the need for railway crossings. Some farmers may get cheap fields but cheaper for the railway than fully monitored crossings.
That's unlikely to be cheaper. It might not even be practicable in that landscape - lots of drainage channels etc so it may not be possible to access from a neighbouring farm.
And in any case, if there's a statutory right of access, that doesn't necessarily disappear just because the organisation that has to allow the access now happens to own the land. I think you'd still have to go through a legal process, albeit might be cheaper when negotiating with yourself.
Only if the owner wants to sell !
And of course the other farmers would need to want to buy too!
 

johnnychips

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On balance, it seems that the fault lay with the farm vehicle driver, though of course we will have to wait for the official report. On the other hand, I can’t see any problem with posters questioning the signing, especially if point 1 isn’t STOP.
 

Bald Rick

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Can be very expensive to a field with no other access to the farm

It’s easy. You offer the farmer somewhat above market value for the field(s) in question, close the crossing, then put the field on the market. I’ve done it several times.
 

Dr Hoo

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Just as an historical angle: when the line opened in the mid 19th century there were only five passenger trains each way over the crossing per day (admittedly there may have been a few goods trains as well).

A quick check on Real Time Trains suggests that there can now be up to five trains per hour each way, no doubt considerably faster. (Numbers vary depending on the level of infrastructure traffic to/from Whitemoor.)

The route really is getting beyond the point where occupation and accommodation crossings are sustainable from various perspectives.

More power to your elbow (and wallet), BR.^^^^
 

randyrippley

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I think your comments regarding, in this case tractor drivers, are totally unfair. Have you seen the controls in the cab of a modern tractor, you have to be pretty bright to work one of these...................
And therein lies the problem: many aren't very bright
 

G Broughton

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I meant one has to be quite intelligent for such procedures as spraying, ploughing etc which are usually computer assisted, NOT necessarily for just driving the damn thing over a crossing as in this case.
 

trebor79

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I meant one has to be quite intelligent for such procedures as spraying, ploughing etc which are usually computer assisted, NOT necessarily for just driving the damn thing over a crossing as in this case.
They really don't. That's the point of the computer control. Some of them drive themselves up and down the fields now.
 

Peter Sarf

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In which case, the threat of possibly having the crossing closed *ought* to make the farmer more conscientious in ensuring that his drivers use it correctly.
I agree. Use it CORRECTLY or lose it. But it depends if there is more then one user.
 

zwk500

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I agree. Use it CORRECTLY or lose it. But it depends if there is more then one user.
Of course, use it or lose it is not applicable because most of these crossings are legally protected in some shape or form. To resolve the legal issues either requires a sack of cash, whichever way you go about it.

If the crossing couldn't be abolished, could NR secure the gates and appoint a crossing keeper? And if so, can they charge the cost of doing so to the farmers who've caused the incidents that have led to that being the solution?
I'm guessing the answers are 'in theory yes', and 'no', respectively, so it wouldn't be a viable option.
 

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