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martin_wynne

25 miles Carstairs to Edinburgh with no brakes?

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Ghastly potential. Checking braking works throughout has always been a key part of train preparation.

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This makes some very disturbing reading. I have had the ambition ( fantasy ,some might conclude? ) of a journey to the Highlands on the sleeper for years.God help us all if this is indicative of the current state of the rail industry. When’s the next flight?  

 

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I thought a brake test was a routine procedure before setting off?

I remember being on a train at Euston a few years ago where the 87 had to be changed. The staff insisted on doing a brake test which added a couple of minutes to the delay. I thought this was normal.

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Under discussion in the thread re the new Caledonian Sleeper.

Bernard

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In this case I think a separate thread is appropriate as many with limited interest in the new coaches or general issues with this franchise will be interested in this incident which has implications for the wider industry. 

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The actions (or rather inactions) of those responsible for this incident are somewhat worse than others on the railway that have led to convictions. Just because they have been lucky enough to have avoided a major accident should not reduce the consequences to them personally, a P45 at the very least.

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14 minutes ago, Joseph_Pestell said:

The actions (or rather inactions) of those responsible for this incident are somewhat worse than others on the railway that have led to convictions. Just because they have been lucky enough to have avoided a major accident should not reduce the consequences to them personally, a P45 at the very least.

 

For action .....and reaction......to this ,we wait. I would hope for strong and positive reaction by the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh..Are they not ....ultimately.....responsible,somewhere down the chain of command ?

The possible consequences for the tourist and business economy are all too obvious.

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Not sure that the SG would need to do or say anything on the matter.  An incident (very serious) occurred. The RAIB will investigate, a report will be published, staff disciplined (if necessary), all other staff briefed and procedures introduced to prevent further similar incidents, and the world keeps spinning. 

 

If every operational incident required SG intervention then they would be very busy indeed. The relevant industry bodies do a very good job and this will be fully investigated professionally like all the previous railway incidents. After all, the rule book is just 150+ years of mistakes. 

 

I would agree that confidence with Serco/CS is very low and it was the last thing they needed after a series of high profile problems since trying to introduce the Mk5s. That trust will take a long time to recover but recover it will, and hopefully the coaches go on to be a great success. 

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It's interesting that a safety alert has been issued to the industry reminding staff to do brake continuity tests. That's seems a bit fundamental to me -- like a reminder not to pass signals at danger.

 

Martin.

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20 minutes ago, Ian Hargrave said:

 

For action .....and reaction......to this ,we wait. I would hope for strong and positive reaction by the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh..Are they not ....ultimately.....responsible,somewhere down the chain of command ?

The possible consequences for the tourist and business economy are all too obvious.

Except that any prosecutions will be instigated by the ORR (HMRI) as the safety authority, independently of any robust conversations the Scottish government may want to have with Serco, as their contracted operator. It may not even be Serco staff that are involved in the ground level operations.

 

Jim 

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Ah, very much as a Control Log had suggested at the time was the case.   This has been discussed in the Caledonian Sleeper thread at some length and where I suggested that something might have happened which required two, or possibly three, people to have not done what they were required to do.  This initial Report indicates that that was possibly the case.

 

There are thus two very  likely scenarios before we leap to condemn anybody.  The first is that a Brake Continuity Test was not carried out or was not carried out properly by the two members of staff involved  (the fact that a reminder has been issued does not in my view necessarily mean that it wasn't until all the facts are established).  The second is that a valve was turned after the Continuity Test had been carried out - by a third person - or it was hit by something during the journey which caused it too close abs destroy the continuity of the Brake Pipe (attention has been drawn previously in the sleeper thread to a valve mounted low down on the vehicle end but it is not known if this affects the continuity of the Brake Pipe).  

 

There is possibility, and particularly worrying, that something in the design and layout of the Mk5 vehicles which might have contributed to the loss/lack of continuity in the Brake Pipe or even to the manner in which the Continuity Test could, or could not, be properly carried  out, or which places a valve in the Brake Pipe in a position where it could be hit or nudged thus removing the continuity of the Brake Pipe. 

 

One important question in all of this is whether or not a Running Brake Test was carried out.  If that can be reliably established as having been carried out satisfactorily then attention would then turn to something during the journey, such as a valve closing, destroying the continuity of the Brake Pipe.  As ever in cases such as this there will be the matter of the reliability of human evidence. 

 

Obviously it is up to the various Inquiries to establish what actually happened and for all we know an internal inquiry might already have done that.  But as far as the public arena is concerned we do not yet know for sure why the train brakes failed to operate as they should and to state any particular reason as being responsible is to not only pre-judge the issue but also to possibly, and potentially inaccurately,  prejudge the actions of certain people.

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12 minutes ago, martin_wynne said:

It's interesting that a safety alert has been issued to the industry reminding staff to do brake continuity tests. That's seems a bit fundamental to me -- like a reminder not to pass signals at danger.

 

Martin.

Well it is fundamental but if I had a £1 for every occasion I've ever come across when a Brake Continuity Test was not carried out I could eat out in some style.  The simple fact is that for many years (back in the 1970s/80s) there was a popular misconception that there was no real need to carry out a Continuity Test on an air braked train and it was at times an uphill task to get folk to understand how important it was to still do it on an air braked train.  Equally there has long been an 'understanding' that automatic brakes - both air and vacuum work and will always work but of course in reality they don't and there have been some very rare occasions where freight trains have runaway because the brake was not continuous.

 

On the other side of the coin there have been occasions where freight trains have divided and the auto application of the brake has not stopped one or other of the divided portions.  These have been extremely rare  but is some instances it was concluded that a Brake Continuity Test was not carried out.  (Which definitely wasn't the case in the one I saw first hand because on that occasion the detached wagon stopped but the train didn't.) 

 

But let's not pre- judge what caused this incident.  The immediate sensible reaction in the event of something like this is not to mess about and to issue a reminder about Brake Continuity Tests - taht is simple railway operatin g commonsense.

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11 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

One important question in all of this is whether or not a Running Brake Test was carried out.  If that can be reliably established as having been carried out satisfactorily then attention would then turn to something during the journey, such as a valve closing, destroying the continuity of the Brake Pipe.

 

Hi Mike,

 

The RAIB seem to have made up their mind about that: "The RAIB’s preliminary investigation indicates that he had no control of the brakes on the coaches because a brake pipe isolating valve was in the closed position when the train left Carstairs station."

 

Martin.

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3 minutes ago, martin_wynne said:

 

Hi Mike,

 

The RAIB seem to have made up their mind about that: "The RAIB’s preliminary investigation indicates that he had no control of the brakes on the coaches because a brake pipe isolating valve was in the closed position when the train left Carstairs station."

 

Martin.

Martin read what I wrote before making up RAIB's mind for them.  Was that valve closed after the Continuity Test - simple question which RAIB have not yet clearly answered.   They have said it was in the  closed position when the train left Carstairs, not that it was closed before a Continuity Test should have been carried out - two potentially very different things.

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27 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

One important question in all of this is whether or not a Running Brake Test was carried out.  If that can be reliably established as having been carried out satisfactorily then attention would then turn to something during the journey, such as a valve closing, destroying the continuity of the Brake Pipe.  As ever in cases such as this there will be the matter of the reliability of human evidence.

After the Darlington runaway in 1977, brake pipe cock handles were modified to prevent them being closed accidentally by ballast strikes or similar.

 

7 minutes ago, The Stationmaster said:

Martin read what I wrote before making up RAIB's mind for them.  Was that valve closed after the Continuity Test - simple question which RAIB have not yet clearly answered.   They have said it was in the  closed position when the train left Carstairs, not that it was closed before a Continuity Test should have been carried out - two potentially very different things.

I know of "continuity tests" where the air was vented from a coach and the train brakes came on but nobody bothered to see if the pressure gauge in the leading cab registered the drop (for the avoidance of doubt, I am not suggesting that this happened in the current case).

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Quote

Having been a shunter for a number of years and done many brake tests it seems there could a few questions here that need asking, be interesting to see what the final report says. 

 

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Hi everyone,

 

Assuming that the set entered Edinburgh via the usual route from the WCML, I am truly amazed the problem wasn't discovered until Waverly itself.  Most trains coming off the line from Carstairs end up being held somewhere in the Haymarket area (and often between the Mound and Haymarket tunnels, too) where a brake failure at almost any time of day could have been truly catastrophic.

 

Regards,

 

Alex.

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13 minutes ago, St Enodoc said:

After the Darlington runaway in 1977, brake pipe cock handles were modified to prevent them being closed accidentally by ballast strikes or similar.

 

I know of "continuity tests" where the air was vented from a coach and the train brakes came on but nobody bothered to see if the pressure gauge in the leading cab registered the drop (for the avoidance of doubt, I am not suggesting that this happened in the current case).

The interesting thing on the MK5 Caledonian Sleeper vehicles is an air pipe of some sort low down under the e vehicle end which appears to have an isolating valve on it. 

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Interesting that the RAIB is so positive that the valve was closed when the train left Carstairs, to be positive requires a witness. Otherwise it would be more appropriate to say that the valve was found to be closed on arrival at Waverly.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Alex TM said:

Hi everyone,

 

Assuming that the set entered Edinburgh via the usual route from the WCML, I am truly amazed the problem wasn't discovered until Waverly itself.  Most trains coming off the line from Carstairs end up being held somewhere in the Haymarket area (and often between the Mound and Haymarket tunnels, too) where a brake failure at almost any time of day could have been truly catastrophic.

 

Regards,

 

Alex.

 

I thought I'd read somewhere, or it may have been on BBC  that the driver knew he had a problem (i'd imagine he would need to slow on outskirts of Edinburgh anyway and certainly by Haymarket) and had communicated with the signallers who made sure he had a clear path through Waverly. I don't know if the sleeper was supposed to stop at Haymarket, possibly not . I think we can say we had a lucky escape here as you say this is a very busy stretch of track, I rarely get through Murrayfield/Haymarket/The Mound unchecked !  Its serious enough but potentially it could have been extremely serious. It obviously needs thorough investigation in all aspects

Edited by Legend
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9 minutes ago, Legend said:

 

I thought I'd read somewhere, or it may have been on BBC  that the driver knew he had a problem (i'd imagine he would need to slow on outskirts of Edinburgh anyway and certainly by Haymarket) and had communicated with the signallers who made sure he had a clear path through Waverly. I don't know if the sleeper was supposed to stop at Haymarket, possibly not . I think we can say we had a lucky escape here !  It obviously needs thorough investigation in all aspects

The Rule Book requires a Running Brake Test to be carried out -

 

2093590429_runningbraketest.jpg.2cc6350973c6a3e13dd10f5290891cab.jpg

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1 hour ago, The Stationmaster said:

Martin read what I wrote before making up RAIB's mind for them.

 

Hi Mike,

 

I wasn't suggesting that they had made up their mind about what tests had or not been carried out or when. I was responding to your suggestion that the valve may have become closed during the journey -- a matter about which they do seem to have made up their mind.

 

cheers,

 

Martin.

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1 hour ago, martin_wynne said:

It's interesting that a safety alert has been issued to the industry reminding staff to do brake continuity tests. That's seems a bit fundamental to me -- like a reminder not to pass signals at danger.

 

Martin.

At least, nowadays, T.P.W.S. should cut in if/when a red light is passed - there's no such backup for a missed brake test.

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24 minutes ago, Grovenor said:

Interesting that the RAIB is so positive that the valve was closed when the train left Carstairs, to be positive requires a witness. Otherwise it would be more appropriate to say that the valve was found to be closed on arrival at Waverly.

 

Absolutely. The Report does not say whether a running brake test was carried out after departing Carstairs; Presumably not, as otherwise the lack of braking would have been evident then, if the valve was indeed closed at Carstairs.

 

I recall one incident in the 2000s, strangely enough on the same route as this incident, a TC failure on the Down line approaching Slateford. This turned out to be some MGR wagons which had divided from a train en route towards Millerhill, which had not stopped ! IIRC the cause (of the train not being stopped by a brake application) was ice in the brake pipe.

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