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Tractor driver 'given permission' to cross line before train crash

An investigation into a collision between a passenger train and a tractor in Norwich has revealed the tractor driver was given permission to cross the railway line.

Alice   Singleton

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Alice   Singleton
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NFU Mutual has given details of how farmers can stay safe at level crossings
NFU Mutual has given details of how farmers can stay safe at level crossings

A tractor driver sustained serious injuries after a train carrying 135 passengers collided with his vehicle in Norfolk.

 

An investigation by the Government’s Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has found the tractor driven was given permission to cross the line and had reached the mid-point of the crossing when his vehicle was struck by a train travelling at 84mph.

 

The tractor was destroyed and the train was badly damaged in the incident.

 

Level crossing

 

A report from the RAIB said: "Hockham Road level crossing is on a private road near Thetford, Norfolk, and also carries a public footpath.

 

"Vehicle users must open and close the crossing gates themselves, and at the time of the accident they had to use the telephone to obtain permission from a signaller at Cambridge, before going over the crossing.

 

"In 2012, the crossing had been provided with red and green lights which informed users whether it was safe to cross, but this equipment had been intentionally decommissioned at the time of the accident."

 

There were 135 passengers and two crew on the train, which did not derail, but came to a stop 410 metres beyond the crossing.

 

Safety

 

RAIB said: "The trailer separated from the tractor and struck the side of the train several times, breaking windows and puncturing the outer body of the train, before coming to rest next to the tractor at the side of the railway line.

 

"The driving cab of the train was severely deformed by the impact, and the driver’s door broke away."

 

Following the incident in Norwich, Farmers Guardian spoke to NFU Mutual about how farmers can stay safe on level crossings.

 

Near miss

 

Rural affairs specialist, Tim Price said: "In recent years there have been a number of accidents – and many more ‘near misses’ - which demonstrate the need to take extreme care when using rail crossings.”

 

“The potential for loss of life and serious injury from an accident involving a farm vehicle and a train colliding means that extreme care should be taken every time a farm vehicle cross the tracks – and safety procedures rigorously followed.”

 

The investigation into the incident continues.

 


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Tractor driver in serious condition after colliding with train in Norfolk Tractor driver in serious condition after colliding with train in Norfolk

Staying safe at level crossings

  • Always follow the railway operator’s procedure - normally involving using a trackside phone to request permission to cross
  • If asked to do so, users should ring back to let the signaller know when they are clear of the line
  • Ensure foreign workers receive training in their own language on how to use rail crossings safely
  • Carefully check that loaded trailers and new implements can cross and will not ground on the track before starting to cross
  • Report damage to crossing gates, fences, or level crossing track bed immediately to the railway operator
  • Ensure all drivers of tractors and farm machinery are trained to use farm crossings safely
  • If a farm vehicle gets stuck on the crossing use the trackside phone to contact the rail operator immediately
  • Close the gates at level crossings immediately after use so others do not mistakenly think it is safe to cross
  • Cleare the crossing as quickly as possible, particularly when moving livestock across them.
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