London Underground has been criticised after a trackside worker was hit by a Metropolitan line train while she was working on the railway between Chalfont & Latimer and Chesham stations last April.

Site of the accident – source RAIB report

A post-accident report published today by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) found that the track worker, who was a lookout for approaching trains had not been given sufficient training about the site hazards.

The accident took place at 9:28am on Friday 15th April 2022, and the injured woman, although provided by a recruitment agency, had about eight years of experience with the railway agency.

There were three people on patrol, the track inspector and two lookouts, and they were on a routine track patrol to check the line for any problems that would need dealing with.

According to the report, the woman was hit after she had moved from a place of safety and into the approaching train’s path to get a better view of the track ahead, just as the train was about to pass her. The report found that she had been walking facing where the previous train has come from, unaware that this was a bi-directional railway line, and was not aware of the train that was now behind her.

The track worker, who was the second lookout for the patrol, sustained head and body injuries and although she was released from hospital later the same day, the RAIB says that she has continued to suffer from the effects of the accident. Following the accident, the railway line was closed until lunchtime to allow for emergency services to work and for safety checks to be carried out.

Following its investigation, the RAIB has now made four recommendations to London Underground to improve its safety procedures.

Lilli Matson, Chief Safety Health and Environment Officer said: “Safety will always be our top priority so we were extremely concerned when a railway worker was struck by a Metropolitan line train while inspecting track near Chalfont & Latimer station. While thankfully their injuries were limited, it would have been a highly upsetting experience and our thoughts remain with them.

“As normal with an incident on the railway, we immediately informed the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) and the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB), in addition to undertaking our own investigation. We will now consider the findings of the RAIB’s report and have already put a number of actions in place to ensure this type of incident does not occur again”

Andrew Hall, Chief Inspector of Rail Accidents said: “Track worker safety continues to be an ongoing theme for the Branch. This accident is an alarming reminder that there is still work to be done to reduce the likelihood of track workers coming into contact with trains on parts of the railway. It cannot be acceptable that any member of staff be working on open lines with insufficient awareness of the direction a train might approach from.”

“Reductions in the amount of work undertaken on lines open to traffic will lessen the risk to trackworkers; this is as true on London Underground as it is on mainline railways. However, some risk will remain. That is why the universal importance of good planning, clear safety procedures, effective leadership, site discipline and fulsome briefings cannot be overstated.”

The RAIB conducts investigations in a no-blame culture, which seeks to find the facts without attributing blame, and then makes recommendations where necessary to improve rail safety.

The full report is here.


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  1. ChrisC says:

    How awful for the worker.

    But such incidences would only increase if the governements ‘modernisation’ plans for railway maintenance get implemented because there would be fewer staff to keep an eye out for trains.

    • ianVisits says:

      Other way round – the rail industry is desperate to reduce manual track inspections and replace it with automatic systems as they are so much safer — if they can get around the issue of then making track inspection staff redundant.

  2. Tom Wright says:

    I used to work trackside as an jointing auditor. This was for Network rail.
    Even after we had been granted possession there would be 3 lookouts/bankspersons and even in the 21st century detonators would still be used to warn of unexpected events.
    Everyone would have two way radio. We would have a safety briefing beforehand. There would be multiple layers of protection. Accidents do happen but their likelihood can be reduced.

  3. Geoff says:

    Unfortunate incident but good news that injury was not serious.
    Particurly concerning that the injured (agency) persons main responsibility was as lookout to protect the persons doing the work/inspection !!
    Modernisation of maintenance will hopefully mean much of this inspection can be undertaken by train mounted video and sensors.

  4. Arthur says:

    No sympathy from me. It’s a train track – there’s going to be trains. If she couldn’t see/hear a train slowly moving towards her at 25mph then I don’t know what to say, she’s too far gone.

  5. Adrien says:

    On the one hand, yes, they should looked both ways before approaching the track. On the other hand, there really ought to be better warning systems in place than just a couple people as lookouts.

    I’m very shocked that the worker was not informed it was a two-way line. That seems like a massive oversight in my opinion.

    Hoping they make a full recovery

  6. Liam Kenny says:

    Sorry to hear she was struck. Thankfully though, got away with it from the sounds of the story. But if on a single track, it’s got to be obvious that the train will go up one way, then come back down the other. I think this would be a human factor and thankfully the rest of the group wasn’t on the line and the lookout facing the wrong way. A much worse scenario.

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