Travel News|

Fallen Boulder Derailed ScotRail Train

ScotRail Logo & Train

Rail incident investigators are calling for procedures that identify and guard against rock falls to be tightened following the derailment of a ScotRail train in Argyll. The Glasgow to Oban service was taken off the tracks last year on June 6 after it hit a boulder close to the Falls of Cruachan power station near Loch Awe.

The crash caught fire briefly, causing the rail line to be closed for over a week following the collision. All 67 passengers had to be led to safety after both carriages toppled to rest on a 15 metre embankment. The train driver and two other workers – Willie Dickson, conductor Angus MacColl and hospitality assistant Drew Hinde – were commended the following December for their bravery by the British Transport Police for leading the passengers to safety.

On Thursday, investigators issued six recommendations in a report to improve safety. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) says that the derailment was the result of the train hitting a boulder that had become dislodged from the slope over the track. This happened through a natural process that includes soil erosion and root jacking. However, the report said that it is possible that another factor could have been that the evaluation and examination system didn’t identify that there was a boulder hazard on the slope between the railway boundary and rock face.

This has prompted the inspectors to issue six recommendations to improve safety around slopes where boulders can be a threat to rail services. Five of these recommendations apply to Newtork Rail, which operates the track, while the other recommendation will apply to ScotRail, the train operator.

Network Rail has been advised that it should have a look into its existing arrangements for vegetation on slopes beside tracks being given clearance to enable evaluations and examinations of earthworks to be conducted. Examination results were recommended to be reported for both rock and soil materials, while any inconsistencies between condition ratings from other examinations are recommended to be identified and resolved. The rail operator was also advised to look over the process for planning remediation works, as well as its methodology for calculating hazards on rock slopes. ScotRail was advised to assess the risk of lighting diffusers inside its trains so that, if there was another derailment, the lighting diffusers won’t cause passengers injuries.

On another note, Network Rail is being criticised by MPs for the big bonuses that its bosses have enjoyed. A report from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee says that the bonuses should be taken into account by rail regulators when evaluating the company’s performance. MPs are unhappy that the firm fell short of efficiency targets for the 5 years up to 2008-09 and say that the bonuses are plainly unacceptable.



  • Share this post:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • Digg
In the Press
  • The Sunday Post Martin Lewis of Early booking using comparison sites including can slash up to 70%
  • The Daily Mail For the best deals, use price comparison websites such as
  • The Daily Telegraph Check out car hire comparison sites such as to see the prices on offer at dozens of car hire companies.

Cookies on

Copyright 2003 ASAP Ventures Ltd

All rights reserved

Registered in England and Wales

Company number 4278063

Registered office address

1 The Square, Lightwater, Surrey, GU18 5SS