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Mon August 02 2021

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Operator jumps clear of runaway MEWP

22 Jun The operator of a rail-mounted cherry picker had to jump off the machine when it started running away with him down the track.

A hydraulic valve on the braking system was not correctly set
A hydraulic valve on the braking system was not correctly set

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) is investigating the incident, which looks like a repeat of a runaway platform five years ago.

The RAIB has revealed that at around 03:40 hrs on 16th May 2021, a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) ran away while being on-tracked at a road-rail access point (RRAP) near Belle Isle junction in north London. The MEWP was due to be used within an overnight possession of the track between Belle Isle junction and Canal Tunnel junction. The machine operator onboard the MEWP was unable to stop the vehicle and jumped from it as it was running away.

The MEWP ran away on a descending gradient (posted as 1 in 28) and travelled along the Up Canal Tunnel line towards St Pancras station. It subsequently came to a stop within a tunnel, 700 metres down the line. No one was injured during the incident and no damage was caused to the vehicle or the infrastructure of the railway.

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RAIB’s preliminary examination found that a hydraulic valve on the MEWP’s direct rail wheel braking system was not correctly set for operational use and that this was likely to have been the cause of the MEWP not being braked when it was on-tracked.

RAIB also found that a similar occurrence on a different type of MEWP had been reported via a national incident report in 2016.

The investigation will consider the sequence of events that led to the incident. It will also consider:

  • the configuration of the RRV’s braking system at the time of the accident
  • recent maintenance activities undertaken on the machine and the arrangements used to confirm the effectiveness of braking systems following maintenance
  • the methods used to ensure that the machine had effective braking performance when in operational service
  • the arrangements for reporting technical issues relating to road-rail vehicles
  • any relevant underlying factors.

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