Investigators publish report into wall collapse at Cotswold Line bridge

The Railway Accident Investigation Branch has published its report into the collapse of a wall supporting an embankment at the Yarnton Road bridge over the Cotswold Line near Cassington, in West Oxfordshire.

The 17.34 Great Western Railway service from London Paddington to Hereford struck bricks that had fallen on to the track at 6.35pm on Friday, February 10, last year, shortly after the train had joined the Cotswold Line at Wolvercote North junction.

The front of the GWR InterCity Express train, number 800318, was damaged by the impact, but it did not derail.

The line was closed for 12 days and a speed restriction was put in place for trains passing the site while work to stabilise the road embankment continued.

The report said that the wing wall was known to be in poor condition after inspections in 2022. It collapsed when it was no longer able to carry the load imposed by the embankment it was supporting.

Although Network Rail had commissioned a contractor in 2022 to carry out repairs at Yarnton Road, and some other structures where problems had been identified, work had not started by the time of the collapse and other action to address risks associated with the wing wall’s deteriorating condition had not been taken.

The RAIB’s role is to improve railway safety through investigating incidents to help prevent future railway accidents or by mitigating their consequences, not to establish blame or liability.

The report makes a series of recommendations to Network Rail about the specification of repair work and the quality of information available for making safety-critical decisions relating to the stability of structural defects, and the need to improve the process of evaluating defects and improve knowledge of the condition of wing walls.

RAIB also identified four learning points for infrastructure managers and examination contractors about monitoring structural movement, implementing risk mitigation measures when remedial work is deferred, the importance of clearing vegetation to allow detailed structural examinations to take place, and the value of including comparable photographs in inspection reports.

Click here to read the full report.

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