There was no safe system of work in place when two rail workers were killed by a high speed train in South Wales in July, according to a report into the incident.
Gareth Delbridge, 64, and Michael 'Spike' Lewis, 58, died after being hit by a Swansea to London Paddington train near Margam, Port Talbot.
Picture courtesy of the RMT
An interim investigation report from Network Rail and train operator Great Western Railway has been released.
It assesses that ‘there was no safe system of work in place’ for the men, who were part of a group of three working around 150 yards from another group and without an official lookout.
One of the three men, who was acting as an unofficial lookout, became involved in work on the track, which he was carrying out when his two colleagues were hit by the train.
The report confirms that the men were wearing ear defenders because the work was noisy, which would require an additional ‘touch lookout’ to be appointed to physically warn those involved of any warning given by the overall site lookout.
It states: ‘This was not part of the planning and was not deployed on site.’
The report also notes that the train driver initially warned the workers using the high and low tone of the train horn ‘but thereafter used the low tone for two long, continuous blasts as the train approached the work group’.
It suggests that in a situation of imminent danger the driver should have used the high tone but adds that it is uncertain whether this would have resulted in the men hearing the warning.
It also suggests that a relevant factor was that: ‘The wide experience of the closely-knit group and familiarity with each other potentially affected their perception of risk.’
Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s safety director, said: 'The whole railway family shares the loss of Gareth and Spike. Nothing will lessen the pain but understanding what went wrong and learning from that will, I hope, go some way to reassure all those affected that we will do all we can to stop it ever happening again.’
He added: ‘Today is the first step in that journey as we share an initial investigation into what happened. We will continue for several months to look deeper into the root causes before we make recommendations for our organisation and all of our people for the future.’
British Transport Police, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch and the Office of Rail and Road are also investigating the incident.