Tag Archives: Railway Accidents

The Old Street Tunnel Incident

This just beggars belief. A property developer was completely unaware there was a working railway tunnel running directly beneath their construction site, and drilled right through the tunnel roof as part of the preliminary piling work. It was only a quick-thinking train driver that averted what could have been a very serious accident.

During the morning of 8 March 2013, a train driver reported that flood water was flowing from the roof of a railway tunnel north of Old Street station near central London. The driver of an out-of-service passenger train was asked to examine the tunnel at low speed and check for damage. The driver stopped short of the water flow and reported that two large drills (augers) had come through the tunnel wall and were fouling the line ahead of his train.

The augers were being used for boring piles from a construction site about 13 metres above the top of the tunnel. The operators of the piling rig involved were unaware that they were working above an operational railway tunnel. Its position was not shown on the site plan, or on any map available to either the developer or the local planning authority. As a consequence, Network Rail was not consulted during the planning application stage and was unaware of the construction activity.

There is a maze of tunnels under London; not just the tube network, but a whole host of utilities, communications, and wartime and cold war bunkers. That there is no one map showing them all is problem, given the amount of construction work going on in central London.

And it shows why documentation matters.

Posted in Travel & Transport | Tagged | 3 Comments

In the aftermath of the terrible train crash in Spain, I’m seeing a lot of people who know nothing about railway technology trying to blame everything on the driver, and quoting things he’s allegedly said on Facebook as evidence. With the level of automated safety systems on high-speed rail, an accident of this nature is very unlikely though driver error alone; the investigation will almost certainly reveal some kind of technical failure.

Posted on by Tim Hall | 4 Comments