Leaked documents reveal rail safety blunders on First Capital Connect trains

PUBLISHED: 16:06 10 May 2013 | UPDATED: 16:21 10 May 2013

Welwyn North railway station

Welwyn North railway station


LEAKED confidential documents have this week revealed safety breaches on First Capital Connect trains, in and around Welwyn Hatfield.

The reports – called ‘major incident narratives’ – detail the nature of the breaches and action taken against offending staff.

An ex-employee of First Capital Connect (FCC) posted the reports online after he had been surreptitiously sent them by a current member of staff, whose identity remains unknown.

One such narrative, from March 8 this year, told of a driver who was stopped by an emergency braking system at Digswell, near Welwyn North Station, after he forgot which signal was showing and failed to report the breach to rail bosses.

The driver was said to be facing disciplinary action over the blunder and was subject to a safety panel meeting before being allowed back on driving duties.

The report read: “The driver of [train] 2R53 approached [signal] K622 during foggy weather after an uneventful journey.

“He realised he could not recall the previous signal aspect and shut off power, but received an emergency brake application approaching a red signal.

“After coming to a stand, the driver reset and continued his journey without reporting the incident to the signaller.

“The driver states that he was distracted after being unable to collect another member of staff at Baldock, and did not report the incident immediately for fear of further delays.”

Other revelations showed that on February 2 a driver overshot the platform at Aswell and Morden and another stopped short of St Pancras station and opened the doors, on March 13.

And a member of dispatch staff at Stevenage Station attempted to move a train off despite a red signal showing on March 14.

Lee Webb, who tweeted pictures of the files last week, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “They are from a source of mine on First Capital Connect’s internal website.”

A spokesman for First Capital Connect dismissed the incidents as “minor” and said: “These internal reports demonstrate that we take safety extremely seriously at First Capital Connect: every incident, however minor, is investigated thoroughly and action taken.”

He added: “Our passengers were safe at all times because systems automatically stop a train if it passes a signal at danger.

“At Digswell the driver was slowing down and would have been able to stop before the signal but because of the margins built into the safety system, the emergency brakes came on first.”

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