Stonehaven derailment: task forces launched after fatal accident

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Two independent task forces were launched following a train accident in which three men died.

The derailment came after heavy rain caused a landslide near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire on August 12.

Network Rail said experts have been urged to improve its understanding and response to inclement weather, and to better manage its earthworks portfolio.

Conductor Brett McCullough, conductor Donald Dinnie and passenger Christopher Stuchbury died in the crash.

Six other people were injured.

Dame Julia Slingo, former chief scientist at the Met Office and climate expert, will lead the weather action working group.

Lord Robert Mair, geotechnical engineer and member of the House of Lords special committee on science and technology, will lead the earthworks management working group.

Network Rail Managing Director Andrew Haines said the Stonehaven tragedy was “a stark reminder that we must never take running a safe railway for granted”.

He said: “With increasingly extreme weather conditions and tens of thousands of earthmoving assets across Britain, our challenge is enormous.

“And while we are making record investments in these areas, we have asked world-renowned experts, Dame Julia Slingo and Lord Mair, to help us resolve these issues as efficiently and as quickly as possible.

Dame Julia’s working group was set up to help Network Rail understand the risks of rain for its infrastructure.

Lord Robert will examine how he can improve the management of his earthworks portfolio, such as cuttings and embankments.

The derailment occurred when the 6:38 a.m. service between Aberdeen and Glasgow struck a landslide 1.4 miles northeast of Carmont, near Stonehaven.

The Railway Accident Investigation Authority (RAIB) said the train turned back to Aberdeen after reporting a separate landslide further down the track.

A RAIB report released last week said there had been thunderstorms in the region, with 52mm of rain falling in four hours – about 70% of the region’s usual monthly total precipitation in August.

He said water flowing from the earth above the railroad tracks washed gravel from a drain on the tracks, as well as larger chunks of rock from the sides of the trench.

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