Accident report

Union urges withdrawal of HSTs after crash report

Scene of tragedy

A trade union has called for the ageing fleet of High Speed Trains(HSTs) to be taken out of service following the report on the Aberdeenshire rail tragedy.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB)’s final report on the Carmont accident on 12 August 2020 found failures by Network Rail and the construction company Carillion caused the Stonehaven rail crash which killed three people.

Errors and corner-cutting by the now defunct Carillion meant a drainage system was unable to cope with heavy rain in Aberdeenshire on the morning of the crash.

The 06:38 train from Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street hit a landslip and derailed causing the deaths of Brett McCullough, Donald Dinnie and Chris Stuchbury.

The train was travelling at 73mph when it hit a 10m stretch of gravel and cobbles washed from the drain. The train struck a bridge parapet, uncoupling four coaches. A power car and the third coach tumbled down a steep embankment.

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The RAIB’s report shows that several failures in the HSTs also contributed to the crash, and particularly to the death of the driver, said the TSSA.

Manuel Cortes, the union’s General Secretary, said: The incident at Carmont was a tragedy, and my thoughts are with the families of the three men who died. The fact that it was a preventable tragedy makes it all the sadder.

“TSSA warned when the HSTs were bought that they were museum pieces not fit for purpose and the RAIB report shows that, tragically, this is the case. Their failings played a part in the tragedy, especially in the death of the driver. ScotRail should now seriously consider whether they need to remove all their HSTs from service.”

The report also blames lack of staffing resources within Network Rail stating, “the railway has insufficient resource to entirely overcome the potential for infrastructure failure.”

Mr Cortes said, “Better oversight of contractors, better maintenance and repair schedules, all could have prevented the Carmont tragedy. It is essential that we now carry out a root and branch review, involving Network Rail, the train operating companies, and the trade unions of how Britain’s railways are maintained.

“What is already clear is that the problem will be exacerbated if the government continues to press ahead with plans to force staff cuts on Network Rail. The last thing our railway needs is to lose the approximately five thousand jobs that Network Rail are looking to cut across our railways.”

“RAIB’s report agrees that the extreme weather the night before the incident at Carmont played a significant role in causing the accident.”

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