Track lookout dodges train strike by 2.5 secs

Aaron Morby 2 weeks ago
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Rail accident investigators are calling for major reforms in the use of lookouts for track maintenance work after a worker narrowly avoided being killed by a train travelling at 102 mph.

The fleeing worker caught on train-cam

The track worker, who was acting as a site lookout for another worker carrying out an inspection, was nearly struck by the train near Peterborough station last July.

When its driver saw the site lookout standing on the same line ahead she immediately sounded the train’s horn and applied the brakes.

This alerted the lookout to jump out of its path just 2.5 seconds before it reached him.

The incident, which took place just before 11 am, has sparked a call for Network Rail to rethink the way it carries out routine maintenance on live rails.

This includes reducing the number of cyclic maintenance tasks that are undertaken using lookouts across all of Network Rail’s infrastructure.


The investigation also found that a distant lookout for the men had left his position before the train arrived because he thought he had been stood down.

A mix up happened when a distant lookout who was visible to the site lookout, but from a different team was looking out for trains coming in the opposite direction.

Simon French, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents said: “This narrowly avoided collision between train and man took place during routine inspection work.

“The catalogue of problems with on-site organisation and communication that we found in this investigation was alarming.

“Some of the people involved made assumptions about what was happening, and the lookout allowed himself to be distracted from the vital duty of warning of approaching trains.

“It is disappointing that the planning of the work had resulted in it being done while trains were running.

“The team involved did most of their work in this way, and of all the different maintenance teams at Peterborough, they were the least likely to plan work in periods when there were no trains.”

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