Train crash with tree that left driver injured was 'totally avoidable'

The union claimed Network Rail operators could not reach the Scotland control room to take action.

Broughty Ferry train crash with tree amid Storm Gerrit was ‘totally avoidable’, ASLEF claim ASLEF via Supplied

An accident in which a train travelling at 84mph crashed into a fallen tree was ‘totally preventable’, a rail union claimed.

The passenger train was “horrendously” damaged after it struck a tree which had fallen across the track at Broughty Ferry amid heavy rain and winds brought by Storm Gerrit on December 28.

ASLEF, the rail drivers union, told STV News that a member of the public called Network Rail’s control centre, which is outsourced in Milton Keynes, to report that the tree had fallen from their garden onto the railway line.

The union claimed it took the control centre more than ten minutes to contact their Scottish counterparts and that it also took them seven times to get through.

Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF’s Scottish organiser said: “This is an accident that was totally preventable, it’s just negligence on behalf of Network Rail and their contractors.

“I think it’s scandalous, it’s not that long ago I was standing talking about the horrific events at Carmont. Here we have another HST train involved in a crash which could have led to loss of life to the train driver and passengers. 

“That is not acceptable and Network Rail needs to be held accountable.”

The driver received minor injuries as a result of the accident. The driving cab of the train was heavily damaged, disabling the train and requiring its passengers to be evacuated.

An investigation is currently under way by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch into the incident.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “Safety is our top priority and we invest millions each year in our trackside to remove vegetation and other risks to the railway.

“We are working with the Rail Accident Investigation Branch to provide all available information to support their investigation and are leading a separate industry review of the incident with partners from across Scotland’s Railway.

“We are grateful to members of the public who report potential issues on the railway and would continue to encourage anyone who spots a safety concern to contact our 24-hour helpline on 0345 711 4141.”

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