Union: take all ScotRail high-speed trains out of service for safety checks
British union TSSA demands that all ScotRail’s high-speed trains are taken out of service to check for corrosion issues following a report on the derailment at Carmont near Stonehaven, Scotland last year.
The transport union is calling on the rail regulator to withdraw all high-speed trains from service for safety checks. “We cannot allow possibly unsafe trains to continue to run on Scotland’s railways”, said TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes. He wrote to Ian Prosser, the Chief Inspector of Railways and Director of Railway Safety, calling on him to instruct rail companies across Britain – including ScotRail – to withdraw their high-speed trains from passenger service. This because of the risk they could pose to passengers being able to survive in derailment conditions due to possible corrosion of elements of the trains.
Corrosion of the train coaches
The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) last week published a report into the crash that claimed three lives. Next to the cause of the crash, in which an incorrectly constructed drain played a role, the RAIB also looked at whether the condition of the train was a factor in the extent of the damage. They found that there were areas of corrosion in the train’s coach structures that were damaged, which was unsurprising given the age of the vehicles, the report says.
The bodyshells of the coaches generally performed well in the accident, resulting in only limited loss of survival space. However, there was complete loss of survival space in the leading vestibule of the leading coach. The vestibule was protected by four body-end ‘collision’ pillars, designed to protect passengers and staff in the event of the accident, but all the pillars at the leading end were sheared off at their bases.
RAIB considered whether the extent of corrosion may have significantly affected the way the coach structures deformed and in particular the loss of survival space observed in the leading coach. However, the investigation was not able to determine whether or not the original strength of the collision pillars without corrosion would have been sufficient to prevent the loss of survival space that led to the death of the train’s conductor.
No evidence of repairs
The corrosion had been picked up during refurbishment of the coaches by Wabtec in 2019, and repairs were authorised. There is no photographic evidence however that the work was done, which is the reason the union calls for immediate safety checks. TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes: “The fact that there is no photographic evidence that Wabtec carried out the corrosion repairs on the derailed HST is a red flag for every other HST currently running.”
He adds that he sees it as time to retire this high-speed rolling stock from the UK railways in general. “The RAIB report is crystal clear when it says “the outcome would have been better if the train had been compliant with modern crashworthiness standards”. The trains were great in their day, but that day is nearly 50 years ago now and they simply aren’t up to modern safety standards. But at the very least, the ORR must take every high-speed train out of service until they can be thoroughly checked for signs of corrosion and necessary repairs made.”
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