Report 06/2023: Train overspeeding at Spital Junction

Rail Accident Investigation Branch

July 10
09:00 2023



At around 10:20 hrs on 17 April 2022, the 08:20 hrs Lumo service from Newcastle to London Kings Cross, passed over three sets of points at Spital Junction at the northern approach to Peterborough station at excessive speed. The maximum permitted speed over the junction is initially 30 mph (48 km/h) reducing to 25 mph (40 km/h). The data recorder from the train indicated that the points had been traversed at a speed of 76 mph (122 km/h).

The speed of the train over the junction resulted in sudden sideways movements of the coaches. This led to some passengers being thrown from their seats and luggage falling from the overhead storage, with some passengers receiving minor injuries. Although the train did not derail, and no damage was caused, post-incident analysis has indicated that the train was close to a speed that would have led to it overturning, and it was likely that some of the wheels of the vehicles lifted off the rails.

RAIBs investigation found that the overspeeding was caused by the driver of train 1Y80 not reacting appropriately to the signal indication they had received on approach to the junction. This signal indication was a warning that the train was to take a diverging route ahead which had a lower speed limit than the straight-ahead route which they were expecting to take. The drivers awareness of the signal conditions that could be presented on approach to this junction and their training were not sufficient to overcome this expectation.

RAIB found that Lumo had not assessed and controlled the risk associated with trains being unexpectedly routed on a slower, diverging route at this location and that it had not adequately trained the driver to prepare for this eventuality. Network Rail had also neither assessed nor effectively controlled the risk of overspeeding at locations where there is a long distance between the protecting signal and the junction itself. The investigation also found that half of the passenger injuries were as a result of falling luggage that had been stowed in the overhead luggage racks.


RAIB has made four recommendations. The first recommendation is for Lumo to review its processes to ensure that it effectively controls the risk of overspeeding at diverging junctions. The second recommendation asks Network Rail to identify junctions where there is a greater potential for overspeeding to occur and to work with operators to share information on the associated risks. The third recommendation asks Network Rail and train operators to consider and implement risk control measures at those junctions identified in the second recommendation. The fourth recommendation is intended to ensure that Lumo minimises the risks from falling luggage on its services.

RAIB has also identified two learning points. These relate to the need for drivers to maintain alertness when approaching junction signals and that train operator emergency plans should specifically include processes to deal with the aftermath of overspeeding incidents.

May 2023 overspeeding incident

At around 13:00 hrs on 4 May 2023, another overspeeding incident occurred at the same location involving a Grand Central service. As a result, RAIB issued urgent safety advice to the industry and announced its intention to investigate this second incident. Further details can be found at paragraph 195 of this report.

Published 10 July 2023

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