Investigation launched after runaway cement wagon derails in Clitheroe

An investigation is under way after a runaway wagon left a cement works, went over two level crossings and came to an abrupt stop close to a railway line - forcing two cars to break.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 1:33 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 1:34 pm
The wagon derailed on trap points. Photo by RAIB

The wagon, loaded with cement powder, left Hanson cement works and continued to run away on the descent towards Horrocksford Junction, where the line to the cement works connects to the main railway line from Blackburn to Hellifield. The incident happened at 8-20am on March 9th.

As it ran away, the wagon broke through the gates at the exit from the cement works and ran over an open crossing located on a road, causing two cars to stop. A short distance later, the wagon passed over an open crossing on a private road.

A spokesman for Rail Accident Investigation Branch said neither level crossing had its manually activated warning equipment switched on before the wagon passed over.

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In a statement, RAIB said: "On reaching Horrocksford Junction, the wagon derailed at the end of the run-out rails for a set of trap points. The trap points worked as intended to prevent such unauthorised movements from reaching the main line. The derailed wagon stopped clear of the main line and no trains were nearby when the derailment occurred. The wagon ran away for a total distance of about 0.75 miles (1.2 km).

"Our investigation will seek to identify the sequence of events which led to the accident. It will also consider any factors relevant to the performance and design of the wagon’s braking system, how the risk of runaway wagons from within the cement works was controlled and any relevant underlying factors.

"Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

"We will publish our findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of our investigation. This report will be available on our website."