Freight train derailment, Lewisham

Rail Accident Investigation Branch

February 7
09:59 2017

At around 05:35 hrs on Tuesday 24 January 2017, two loaded wagons of a westbound freight train derailed as they passed over Courthill Loop South Junction, to the south of Lewisham station, while travelling at around 20 mph (32 km/h).

The accident resulted in major damage to the railway infrastructure. The first of the two derailed wagons overturned and spilt its contents. The train divided in front of the derailed wagons and its brakes automatically applied.

There were no injuries. However, there was major disruption to local train services.

The freight train was the 03:36 hrs service from a loading terminal at Grain, on the Thames Estuary. It comprised a class 66 diesel-electric locomotive and 18 bogie hopper wagons. It was carrying building sand to Neasden, in north-west London. The wagons that derailed were the 16th and 17th from the front. They were both of the JGA type.

The track work at Courthill Loop South Junction was new. It was made up of modular panels of switches and crossings that had been part assembled offsite. They had been delivered and installed as part of engineering work carried out on the weekend of 14 and 15 January 2017. Follow-up engineering work had been carried out at the junction on the weekend before the derailment.

Our investigation will identify the sequence of events that led to the accident and how the wagons derailed. It will also consider:

  • the condition of the wagons and how they were maintained
  • how the wagons were loaded
  • the design of the new track work at the junction and how it was installed
  • the condition of the track and its geometry
  • any relevant underlying management factors.

Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry or by the industrys regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.

We will publish our findings, including any recommendations to improve safety, at the conclusion of our investigation. This report will be available on our website.

You can subscribe to automated emails notifying you when we publish our reports.

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