Poor flood management blamed as train hits debris washed onto track

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

Poor flood management led to a train colliding with debris in an incident which left passengers stranded for more than seven hours, an investigation has found.

Network Rail, the Environment Agency and local authorities were among the parties which “did not engage and communicate effectively” about the potential risk of flooding, a report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said.

A northbound train operated by now-defunct East Midlands Trains hit sandy gravel washed out from a slope next to the line in Corby, Northamptonshire, shortly before 4pm on June 13 last year.

All 191 passengers on board were transferred to a southbound train three hours later, but this subsequently became trapped by floodwater.

Conditions on the overcrowded second train were described as “very comfortable” with up to 550 passengers on board, and it was not until nearly 11.15pm when they were able to disembark with the aid of emergency personnel.

The evacuation was “significantly delayed” due to a lack of equipment for transferring passengers from one train to another.

The RAIB investigation found that “heavy rainfall was not a factor” in causing the flooding.

Instead, a blockage beneath a nearby bridge had caused excess water to flow into two flood storage ponds, one of which spilled onto the railway cutting causing debris to wash out onto the tracks.

Investigators said previous flood risk engagement between the organisations involved was “often adversarial, seeking to apportion blame and recover costs”.

The RAIB made five recommendations, including calling on Network Rail to review how it manages similar locations prone to “safety critical flooding”.