Innova resources have an extensive background and technical expertise from investigations into numerous rail accidents and derailments. Most of these assisting or directly undertaking the lead investigator role for either the rail infrastructure manager or rail operator. Several have involved fatalities and provision of evidence at subsequent legal proceedings. This experience has also uniquely positioned Innova to undertake derailment risk analyses based on real-life hazard identification and the application of failure mode analysis and related tools.
How Innova Helped
Derailments are among the most severe and potentially dangerous form of safety incident to occur on railways. They create both immediate public and media attention and tend to initiate high pressure from government and the rail organisations involved to quickly identify the cause and undertake recovery and restoration work. Investigation and recovery activities often represent conflicting timelines, with tendency to disturb potentially critical evidence during rescue and vehicle recovery, but must withstand subsequent regulatory and legal scrutiny.
Innova understands both the urgency of traffic restoration and the need to understand and record the causal factors and critical evidence collection, including protection of transitory or volatile evidence. The experience of Innova’s rail technical experts who cover a wide range of knowledge from rail operations and safe-working practices, to track, signals, communications and rollingstock engineering, has allowed rapid determination of likely or possible causal factors and collection of relevant evidence. This has allowed return of vital rail services at the earliest opportunity resulting in minimisation of traffic disruption and consequential cost.
The key purpose of all accident investigation is to determine the actual causes in order to prevent reoccurrence. Derailments by their nature and due to the destruction caused by the high energies involved, are rarely simple and often involve multiple and often subtle contributory factors that combine to result in rail vehicles leaving the track. Due to the evidence destruction often caused by the derailment, much of the investigation can involve forensic examination of events and conditions leading up to the incident. Often this can also involve identification of underlying design failures and human factors assessments to establish root causes and recommendations for changes to mitigate against future incidents.
Innova resources have been involved in investigating derailments and other serious rail incidents including train runaways, structure collapse due to flooding, train collisions and level crossing collisions, overspeed derailments, wagon defects, broken rail and heat buckle derailments, track geometry anomalies, shattered wheels, driver safe-working errors, communication failures, cyber security intrusion and wrong-side signal failures.
In all cases, Innova derailment and safety specialists have resolved the causes of incidents investigated and identified underlying root causes that often included organisational and procedural short-comings, leading to real changes to prevent or reduce the likelihood of such incidents being repeated. They have also contributed to allocation of responsibility between contributing organisations to provide evidentiary support for cost recovery or defence against legal proceedings.
Safety investigation is a mandatory legal requirement of all accredited rail organisations and forms an element of their safety management system, however many of those organisation either do not hold adequate or sufficiently experienced internal resources in-house, or require specialist independent resources to eliminate suggestions of conflict of interest. This is where Innova is well placed to assist.