Luas tram derailed by clothes on track
Published 22/04/2010 | 05:00
A LUAS laden with passengers derailed in a freak accident caused by a piece of clothing becoming stuck on the track, an official investigation found yesterday.
But the driver of the Luas travelling from Connolly Station to Tallaght last July was also to blame because he did not check an indicator that would have shown the track was not safe to travel on.
A report into the incident by the Railway Accident Investigation Unit (RAIU), published yesterday, failed to make any recommendations on improving safety because it said tram operators Veolia had fully dealt with all the safety concerns that arose from the incident and had retrained the driver.
And hours of CCTV footage studied as part of the investigation failed to find evidence that someone had deliberately inserted the clothing into the tracks.
On July 16 last, the 5.10pm Luas came off the tracks just moments after leaving Connolly Station in Dublin. The tram had travelled for 26 metres when the driver heard a loud bang.
Two off-duty staff checked the tram, and while they did not notice any sign of derailment, they did spot an item of clothing under the tram. The driver then continued a further 10 metres before being forced to stop because the tram was moving toward a wall.
No one was injured, but services were suspended to Connolly Station for a number of hours before the line was re-opened.
The investigation found safety equipment -- called the Points Position Indicator (PPI) -- displayed a warning sign that the track was not properly set for the outbound route.
It concluded that because the driver had not checked the PPI, the tram was derailed.
Investigators found that routine tests had been carried out on the points just four days before the accident but that no issues were found.
"Maintenance and inspections were not found to have contributed to this accident," it said.
The tram service was also running seven minutes late due to a slow tram on the line. however, a time constraint was not seen as contributing to the accident.
"After reviewing the factual information and carrying out the analysis into the accident the RAIU has concluded that the driver was experienced, did not appear to be effected by the late running of the service, and there were no distractions present. Therefore, the driver not checking the PPI was a human error omission," the report found.
The tram driver had over three years' experience of driving and did not test positive for drugs or alcohol. Veolia said the report was "very clear" on the causes of the accident.