The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has made four safety recommendations to Network Rail after a train hit bricks from a collapsed wall.
The incident which prompted the RAIB investigation saw a Great Western Railway (GWR) train travelling at 58mph hit a pile of bricks which had fallen on the tracks in Yarnton, Oxfordshire on February 10 last year.
The damage to the train meant it could not move and passengers were evacuated onto a rescue train with the assistance of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.
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The driver, who did not have time to take any action before the collision occurred, reported that the pile of bricks was 10 metres long and 2.5 metres high.
The RAIB said the wall adjacent to the railway collapsed when it was no longer able to carry the load imposed by the embankment it was supporting.
Although it was “known to be in poor condition” by Network Rail, “effective control measures had not been put in place”, investigators found.
The collapse happened within three weeks of an examining engineer observing that a bulge in the brickwork had increased since a previous inspection.
There is a process for an examiner to directly notify Network Rail if they identify something that requires urgent attention, but this was not thought to be the case in this instance, according to the report.
The RAIB made four recommendations to Network Rail, such as improving the evaluation of structural defects and how it specifies repair work.
A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Safety is our top priority and we’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we worked to repair the bridge in February 2023.
“Following the incident we have assessed the condition of over 200 similarly constructed bridges using existing data, 10 of which received targeted site visits and inspections.
“Repair work to one of those bridges is ongoing.
“We welcome the Rail Accident Investigation Branch’s report into the incident, our teams are working to address the findings and share learning around specific risk of this type of masonry.
“We will continue to work alongside our contractors to implement the four recommendations produced by the RAIB investigation.”