Investigation after driver's cabin destroyed in 84mph crash with tree

The driver of the train was left 'shaken' but uninjured by the incident in December during Storm Gerrit.

The front of a ScotRail train destroyed by a fallen tree will be the subject of a watchdog investigation.

The service, en route between Perth and Aberdeen, collided with the tree during Storm Gerrit on Wednesday, December 27.

The incident saw the front of the train, which was travelling at 84mph, “horrendously” damaged near Broughty Ferry by the debris.

The front carriage was destroyed during the crash in December.

The driver of the train was left “shaken” but uninjured after triggering the emergency break and taking shelter behind the driving seat before the impact.

ASLEF, the UK train drivers’ union, shared images of the destruction done to the window at the front of the carriage.

Large branches from the tree and parts of machinery were seen hanging out of the front of the driver’s cabin.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has launched an investigation into the crash to determine the sequence of events that led to the accident.

The inquiry will consider the “management of train operations during adverse weather conditions” and the “arrangements in place to manage and control the risks from trees falling on to the railway”.

How information received by members of the public is handled in relation to railway safety, the crashworthiness of the train in question and any underlining management factors will also be examined.

A statement read: “At 1.17pm on December 27, 2023, a passenger train travelling between Balmossie and Broughty Ferry on the Perth to Aberdeen line struck a tree which had fallen across the track from outside of the railway.

“The train was travelling at 84mph (135 km/h) when the collision occurred.

“The driver of the train made an emergency brake application and took shelter behind the driving seat immediately before the impact.

“On the day of the accident, Storm Gerrit had brought heavy rain and strong winds across Scotland and other parts of the UK.

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

The investigation is said to be independent of any inquiry by the railway industry or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

ASLEF tweeted in December: “Shocking event that’s happened at Broughty Ferry the outdated HST hit a tree. Driver reacted superbly and is shaken but not hurt.

“We continue dialogue with ScotRail over the future of these trains on the railway.”

Glasgow MSP Paul Sweeney wrote at the time: “Horrendous tree impact damage to a ScotRail InterCity 125 locomotive today, en route from Dundee to Glasgow. Thankfully, the driver is unharmed.

“It’s sheer luck that this happened in daylight hours and the driver had time to react.”

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