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By Paul Homewood

h/t Ian Cunningham

From the Guardian:

A drainage system wrongly built by Carillion and unchecked by Network Rail led to the Stonehaven train crash, investigators have found, when a Scotrail train hit debris washed by rain on to the railway track.

Three people died on 12 August 2020 in the worst fatal event on the UK railways in 18 years, when the passenger train from Aberdeen to Glasgow derailed at Carmont, near Stonehaven, after heavy rainfall.

Inspectors said the drainage system and earthworks, installed in 2011-12 by the contractor Carillion to stabilise the slope above the track, “had not been constructed in accordance with the original design and so were not able to safely accommodate the water flows” when almost a month’s rainfall, 51.5mm, fell in three hours.

The changes made by Carillion, which went bust in 2018, were not noted by Network Rail, which did not inspect the upper parts of the drainage system after a handover in 2013.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch’s final report on the disaster also found that route controllers had “not been given the information, procedures or training needed” to effectively manage the situation, and that Network Rail had not fully implemented risk measures developed after previous events involving extreme weather.

Despite a nearby landslip the same morning, and floods from the extreme rainfall, no speed restrictions were imposed and the train was travelling at 73mph when it hit the gravel washed from the drainage trench and came off the tracks, striking a bridge parapet. One of the four carriages overturned and another fell down a steep embankment and caught fire…

Andrew Haines, Network Rail’s chief executive, said the report showed there were “fundamental lessons to be learned by Network Rail and the wider industry”.

“As well as expressing our deep sorrow and regret … we acknowledge it should not have taken this tragic accident to highlight those lessons,” Haines said. “We must do better.”


You will of course remember the rush to blame climate change at the time, even though as I quickly showed, the rainfall that day was not unprecedented.

Notably, Network Rail’s Chief Executive, Andrew Haines, who is quoted above, said this at the time:

“Our climate is changing and it is increasingly challenging the performance and reliability of the railway, but incidents like yesterday’s devastating accident are incredibly rare, and our railway remains the safest major railway in Europe.

“Our network was designed for a temperate climate, and it’s challenged when we get extremes such as storms and floods.

“We’re seeing this more and more and although we can address them on the ground with precautionary measures, we are acutely aware we need a long-term resolution, and we had already secured additional funding and resources to help achieve this.

He should hang his head in shame, apologise and then resign for trying to shift the blame, rather than accept responsibility at the outset.

Network Rail even had the temerity to double down in their interim report a month later:


A few months later, the BBC’s Justin Rowlatt also blamed the tragedy on global warming:


But don’t expect any apology from him!

For the record, the Network Rail report stated that about 50mm of rain fell in the area that morning. Nearby Dyce recorded 83mm for the day, which was slightly less than the 83.9mm, which fell there in July 1970.

There is no evidence that daily rainfall is becoming more extreme there.



MARCH 10, 2022