Investigators reveal the cause of Sheffield train derailment

A freight train derailed in South Yorkshire because screws in the track were broken, an investigation found.

A wagon which flipped onto its side after a train derailed in Sheffield in November 2020
A wagon which flipped onto its side after a train derailed in Sheffield in November 2020

The locomotive, which was hauling 34 wagons of cement powder from Derbyshire to Dewsbury, was travelling at around 12mp when it came off the tracks near Sheffield station at 2.44am on November 11 in 2020.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said no one was injured but a number of wagons were damaged and there was “significant damage to the track”.

This caused widespread disruption on the rail network in the north as part of Sheffield station was partially closed for five days while the train was recovered, and the track was repaired.

The train derailed when the right-hand wheel of the twelfth wagon dropped into the gap between two rails, which had widened because the screws holding them in place had broken.

An RAIB report states: “The track screws had failed several weeks, or perhaps months, before the derailment, but the failures had not been identified by Network Rail’s maintenance inspection activities.

“Although this was a location with a potentially high risk of derailment, it had not been recognised as such because Network Rail’s guidance for identifying such risk had not been applied.”

It adds: “RAIB has made four recommendations to Network Rail concerning the implementation of processes for identifying high derailment risk locations, the implementation of safety-critical changes to its processes, standards governing fitment of check rails, and track geometry data formats.”

The RAIB is still investigating a collision at Grosmont station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway on September 21.

A diesel locomotive travelling at around 10mph hit the back of a stationary passenger train at the station in North Yorkshire and five people on board suffered minor injuries.