Here are the all facts from the investigation into the Salisbury double train crash on Sunday published today. 

Details from the independent investigation into the crash between a South Western Railway and Great Western Railway train at Salisbury Tunnel Junction on October 31 have been published by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB).

These clarify the details from the incident, and dispel misinformation that circulated during in the aftermath of the event, which we have put together below. 

Which trains crashed in Salisbury and when did it happen? 

The SWR passenger service which was scheduled from London Waterloo at 17:20 and was travelling to Honiton (1L53) collided with the side of the GWR service which was the 17:08 from Portsmouth Harbour to Bristol Temple Meads (1F30). 

The collision happened at around 18.45 on October 31st. 

Where did the trains crash?

Salisbury Journal: Diagram showing the layout of Salisbury Tunnel Junction and movement of trains (not to scale). From RAIBDiagram showing the layout of Salisbury Tunnel Junction and movement of trains (not to scale). From RAIB

The collision took place at Salisbury Tunnel Junction, which is on the immediate approach to Fisherton Tunnel.

This junction allows the Up and Down Dean lines which lead to and from Eastleigh to merge with the Up and Down Main lines which lead to and from Basingstoke.

At the time of the accident the GWR train was using the junction to join the Down Main line from the Down Dean line, while train SWR was approaching the junction on the Down Main line from the direction of Basingstoke.

What happened to both trains during the crash?

Salisbury Journal: An aerial view of Salisbury Tunnel Junction with the two trains which collided in Salisbury. From RAIBAn aerial view of Salisbury Tunnel Junction with the two trains which collided in Salisbury. From RAIB

The impact of the collision caused the front two coaches of the SWR train and the rear two coaches of train GWR to derail. B

Both trains continued some distance into Fisherton tunnel following the collision, before they came to a stop. 

The collision also caused significant damage to the trains and railway infrastructure involved.

What happened at the exact moment of the Salisbury train crash?

A danger light was displayed by the signal (SY31) protecting the movement of the GWR train across the junction from trains approaching on the Down Main line, the RAIB found in their preliminary investigation.

The SWR train passed this signal by around 220 metres despite the driver applying the break, as shown in data downloaded from the On Train Data Recorder (OTDR) fitted to train. 

Around 12 seconds after braking started, the driver made an emergency brake demand and this was followed by a second emergency brake demand made by the train protection and warning system (TPWS).

These emergency brake demands did not prevent the train from reaching the junction where the trains collided. 

Salisbury Journal: Graphic from PA MediaGraphic from PA Media

Analysis of the OTDR indicates that wheel slide was present both when the driver applied service braking and after emergency braking was demanded. 

According to the RAIB, this was almost certainly a result of low adhesion between the train’s wheels and the rails.

A passenger shared his experience of the crash with the Journalsaying "After the initial screams, shock and impact everyone remained relatively calm." 

The passenger said they had to wait 20-25 minutes until they were rescued and escorted from the carriage with a ladder.

How many passengers were injured or required medical assistance? 

Thirteen passengers and one member of railway staff required treatment in hospital as a result of the accident. 

The railway staff member was the SWR train driver, who is "deeply respected" by colleagues and received life-changing injuries.

The driver has over 50 years of experience of driving on this route and an 'excellent professional track record' according to SWR. 

There were no fatalities. 

Is the investigation finished? 

Salisbury Journal: Officer's could be seen investigating the tracks the morning after the crash took place. Photo from PAOfficer's could be seen investigating the tracks the morning after the crash took place. Photo from PA

The RAIB are still determining the sequence of events in the lead up to the collision as well as considering:

  • The level of wheel/rail adhesion present on the approach to Salisbury Tunnel junction
  • The status and performance of the braking, wheel slide protection and sanding systems on train 1L53
  • The behaviour of both trains during and following the collision
  • South Western Railway’s policies relating to low wheel/rail adhesion
  • Network Rail's policies relating to low wheel/rail adhesion and how they managed the risk of low adhesion in this area
  • The processes used to assess and control the risk of overrun at signal SY31
  • Any relevant underlying factors, including any actions taken in response to previous safety recommendations.

South Western Railway's response to the RAIB update

The managing Director of South Western Railway responded to RAIB’s latest update. 

Claire Mann said: “We welcome RAIB’s update on the scope and aims of its investigation. It is right that they look into all the possible causes of the lack of adhesion between the train and the track, and we are pleased their early assessment shows the South Western Railway driver reacted correctly to the signals by braking to slow the train down. We believe his actions went some way to preventing a much more serious incident and we wish him a speedy recovery .

“We will continue to work closely with the relevant authorities and our industry partners on all aspects of the investigation.”

What does an independent investigation mean? 

The RAIB said their investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry. 

This means it is independent of investigations by the British Transport Police or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

At the end of their investigation they will publish their findings, including safety improvement recommendations, on the RAIB goverment website.

We will also report all the latest at the Journal, so it is worth setting up a breaking news alert or signing up to our newsletters to be updated as soon as we know.

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