Ely freight train that derailed had 'worn' components that had not been properly maintained since it was built in 2003, a report has revealed
PUBLISHED: 15:19 03 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:19 03 August 2018
A damning report into the derailment of a freight train in Ely revealed that components had been "managed to incorrect maintenance limits" for almost 14 years.
Widespread disruption was caused when the rear of 12 wagons of a freight train derailed at Ely West Junction last August.
Trains were unable to run between Ely and Peterborough, with others facing knock-on delays and the closure of the line for a week.
The train, which was travelling at 41mph, ran for around 350 metres causing “significant damage” to the tracks.
GB Railfreight (GBRf) - who operated the train and were in charge of maintenance - face heavy criticism in the report, for not keeping up to date with general repair specifications in 2009.
The report, whish was issued by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) yesterday (August 2), states that the damping on the bogies on one of the wagons had caused the derailment to occur.
Furthermore, the components were “not compatible” with the design of the damping system and a general repair in 2010 was “ineffective” in identifying the “worn state” they were in.
A bogie is a structure underneath the wagon which axles and wheels are attached through bearing.
Damping helps minimise the amount of bouncing they experience on an uneven track.
When the wagon was examined at March depot after the derailment an “unusual wear pattern” was detected.
A summary of the report states: “The first wagon to derail was an FEA-A wagon fitted with Y33 bogies. The derailment occurred because the damping on the bogies of this wagon was ineffective.
“The damping had become ineffective because the damping components, which had been on the wagon since it was built in 2003, had been managed to incorrect maintenance limits.
“The limits did not account for future wear in the period before the next maintenance intervention and were also not compatible with the design intent of the damping system.
“In addition, the maintenance interventions since a general repair in 2010 (the last time when these components had been measured) were ineffective in identifying the worn state of the components.
“It is also probable that the company responsible for the maintenance of the wagon did not appropriately validate the general repair maintenance specification used in 2010 to confirm that it would ensure continued safe operation up to the next planned general repair due in 2017.”
An “underlying factor” was in 2009, GBRf did not “appropriately validate” its general repair maintenance specification “to ensure safe operation” up to general repair in 2017.
“It was probable that this factor was linked to the cause of the accident,” the report says.
Focusing on the maintenance carried out by GBRf, it adds: “The maintenance interventions between general repairs did not identify that the damping system had become ineffective.
“Maintenance limits allowed worn damping components to remain in service, with insufficient wear life left to reach the next scheduled maintenance intervention.”
A GB Railfreight spokesperson said: “We note the outcome of the RAIB investigation and will comment in due course once we have had the opportunity to review in detail the boards report and recommendations.”
The 35-page report concluded that the immediate cause was an insufficient wheel load on the leading right-had wheel of the wagon to prevent it lifting onto the railhead.
But the derailment occurred because damping on the bogies was “ineffective”.
The fleet of wagons has since gone through general repair and all of the damping components have been replaced.
The RAIB made one recommendation for GBRf to review its maintenance documentation and ensure that the bogies on its freight wagons remain “adequately damped” at all times.
A spokesperson from Network Rail said: “We welcome the report and its recommendations.”
The freight train had been travelling from Felixstowe to Doncaster when the incident happened. No one was injured.