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Rain caused brakes of train at Chester Station to fail at critical moment

Published date: 10 December 2013 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A RAIN shower caused the brakes on a train which crashed through the buffers at Chester Station to skid, an initial report has revealed.

Emergency services were called to Chester Station on Wednesday, November 20, at 12.10pm after a Virgin Trains Voyager collided with the buffer at the end of Platform One and derailed.

Two passengers on the service from London Euston sustained minor injuries.

An inital report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said the accident was caused by rain which reduced the adhesion for the brakes and, as the driver attempted to brake, the wheels skidded.

The report also said the buffer was an old design and only had “minimal capacity to absorb energy” – meaning it was destroyed as the train mounted the platform and came to a rest.

The report said: “As the train approached Chester station the driver applied the brakes to reduce the speed for the 20 mph speed limit into the platforms.

“The weather at the time had been dry but a rain shower was just starting and the adhesion between the wheels and rails was reduced.

“The train’s wheel-slide protection system detected that the wheels were sliding on the rails, regulated the application of the brakes, and the train was able to achieve a rate of deceleration sufficient to bring its speed down to within the speed limit as it approached the station.

“As the train approached the platform the driver lightly applied the brakes again but the wheels immediately started to slide.

“Despite the immediate automatic activation of the wheel-slide protection system, the train’s deceleration was insufficient to bring it down to a safe speed as it moved along the platform.

“Consequently, the emergency brakes were applied by train protection and warning system and the driver pressed the emergency stop button very shortly afterwards.

“The combination of emergency braking and the detection of wheel-slide triggered the automatic sanding system on the leading vehicle to drop sand onto the rail head.

“The presence of the sand improved adhesion for the wheels that ran over it and the speed was reduced before the train collided with the buffer stop at the end of the platform.”

The RAIB will publish a full report in the coming months.

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