Report Into Train Derailment Reveals Failings

PUBLISHED: 09:09 28 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:43 04 May 2010

A DAMNING report has been issued into the derailment of a freight train at Ely. Network Rail and private wagon companies came in for heavy criticism after the June 2007 accident, which closed the Ely to Bury St Edmunds rail line for six months and forced

A DAMNING report has been issued into the derailment of a freight train at Ely.

Network Rail and private wagon companies came in for heavy criticism after the June 2007 accident, which closed the Ely to Bury St Edmunds rail line for six months and forced commuters on to buses.

Boatyard owners also were hit by the disaster, which left 11 wagons derailed, some hanging off a broken bridge over the River Ouse, and narrowboats marooned, unable to reach their moorings in the city or upriver at St Ives. The Great Ouse had to be dredged before it was judged safe to allow boats along the river, and Network Rail built a 1.3km temporary road to allow heavy lifting equipment access to the scene.

Chris Wenn of Ely Boatyard, whose hireboat trade was wiped out by the accident, said he was still pursuing Network Rail for compensation. "We've managed to get some of it back, but not the full amount. It's hard to put a figure on how much we lost but the money won't go far enough, put it that way," said Mr Wenn, who has run the boatyard for more than 30 years alongside his brother Philip.

"It has a knock-on effect on the following year's trade, but we were very lucky no one was killed," added Mr Wenn.

The Rail Investigation department of The Department of Transport, which took more than 18 months to issue its report, is careful not to lay blame at any company's door, but said Network Rail had not carried out essential repairs to the track a week prior to the accident.

Wagon company Lafarge, who loaded the train at their depot in Leicestershire, were criticised for failing to check that their wagons were properly loaded. Staff said loading was done two hours behind schedule in dark, rainy weather, preventing adequate safety checks being made.

"The closure of the railway line, and of the river Great Ouse, caused

environmental, social and economic problems to the surrounding area and for

local businesses. The land surrounding the river was contaminated with oil and

grease residues from the damaged and derailed wagons. Bridge debris was

removed from the river bed and embankments," said the Department of Transport.

It also recommended for the future safety of members of the public that:

"Network Rail should review maintenance hours and resources available

for the maintenance of track between Ely Dock Junction and Soham, and

provide appropriate levels of time and resource."

The accident was the third to happen in the space of 10 years at the Ely Dock junction - two of them partially caused by "track twist" - a failure to maintain the track by Network Rail.

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