Inquiry into Woodbridge rail crossing accident finds instructions to drivers ‘inadequate’

The scene of the accident in Woodbridge

The scene of the accident in Woodbridge - Credit: Archant

A train hit a car at a level crossing in Woodbridge at which instructions given to motorists were inadequate, an accident report has said.

The driver of the Volvo V70 estate car escaped serious injury in the crash in daylight in Suffolk on the evening of July 14 last year.

The train, the 6.04pm Ipswich to Lowestoft service, was travelling at about 25mph when the driver, seeing a car on the user-operated crossing, applied the emergency brake.

This was at a point about 58 metres (190ft) from the user-operated crossing at Jetty Avenue in Woodbridge, the report by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said.

Five seconds later, the train, now travelling at about 13mph, struck the car driven by a member of the Woodbridge Lions club’s regatta committee.

In this five-second period the driver, using the crossing to access a private boatyard, had tried to reverse clear but was unable to find the correct gear-shift position, the report said.

The train struck the front right-hand side of the car, pushing it to the left. The front of the car, which was towing a small trailer, was damaged but the driver only suffered a minor head injury.

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The train, with 100 passengers aboard, stopped after travelling a further 15 metres (49ft) and was not derailed.

The report said: “Our investigation has found that instructions given to car drivers using this, and similar, level crossings were inadequate.

“It also found that Network Rail’s (NR) method for ensuring that vehicle drivers have an adequate view of approaching trains was incompatible with the characteristics of both the car involved in the accident and many of the vehicles expected to use crossings of this type.”

The RAIB made five recommendations - four to NR and one to the Office of Rail Regulation.

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