A UNION has urged Network Rail to examine "every mile" of Scottish track to ensure the Stonehaven train crash which killed three people never happens again.

It comes as the Rail Accident Investigation Branch say they they will look into how climate change may have played a part in the crash in which three people died.

The RAIB said the examination will help their probe into its relevance to "the future management of railway drainage".

It will also look at "underlying management factors", including the development and validation of standards relating to risk management in an extreme weather event.

Six were also injured when a train travelling from Aberdeen crashed into a landslip last year.

The incident close to Carmont, near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire, on August 12 followed heavy rain.

The RAIB said there is no evidence that a drainage system built at the location of the Stonehaven rail crash was inspected between its construction in 2012 and the fatal accident in August 2020.

The reasons for “any differences” between the “intended and actual post-construction processes” are among the main areas being considered by investigators into the derailment.

The RAIB said the train derailed after colliding with stones washed out onto the track from the gravel-filled crest drain and from the adjacent ground caused by "unusually heavy rain".

It said: "Although surface water flow alone can dislodge gravel, and stones of other sizes, RAIB is continuing to investigate whether other factors, such as the drainage system’s design or the quality of installation, contributed to the displacement of material.

"It is possible that surface water flows, before the day of the accident, had been sufficient to dislodge gravel from small areas of the gravel-filled drain, sufficient to be seen in the area affected, but with insufficient material washed down for this to be apparent at track level. The lack of an effective drainage inspection regime meant that any such indications of future problems upslope of catchpit would not have been detected."

The Herald:

The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF), the train drivers' union said the driver of the train Brett McCullough, 45, who died in the crash had been exonerated as the accident, which it said cast a long shadow across Britain’s railway industry, was caused by "debris washed onto the track" following heavy rainfall.

Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF’s organiser in Scotland, said that Network Rail which is responsible for the rail infrastructure has to do more to protect tracks.

"Blame for the accident has been laid firmly at the door of Network Rail for failing to maintain the area around the track," he said. "It was the landslip – the debris washed onto the track – which caused the train to derail, with the subsequent loss of life, injuries, and catastrophic consequences. We are urging Network Rail to examine every mile of track for which it is responsible, to ensure something like this can never happen again."

Network Rail has commissioned two external reviews by committees headed by independent experts.

One deals with Network Rail’s management and understanding of the implications of its historic earthworks; the second deals with the implications of climate change.

RAIB said it "recognises the importance of these issues to safe management of the railway, and continues to investigate possible overlaps between these issues and the derailment at Carmont".

It is to further examine the railway’s responses to severe weather events and weather-related infrastructure failure as well as the  competence and training of operational staff to deal effectively with such event.

It will look at the  railway’s use of weather data to help it manage events such as  major winter storms, which the RAIB said "can often be forecast with relatively high certainty".   It will further look at the actual behaviour of the drainage system and will include analysis of relevant ground and groundwater data, collection of additional ground and groundwater data and mathematical modelling.  Conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, also died when the 06:38 Aberdeen to Glasgow Queen Street train crashed and derailed.

Lord Mair's UK government-commissioned report said "shortfalls in the earthwork examination and risk evaluation system need to be addressed", with "significant investment" required to update the company's monitoring and surveillance methods.

"More regular and frequent use" should be made of helicopters and drones to identify problems, his task force suggested.

ord Mair’s report stated that “shortfalls in the earthwork examination and risk evaluation system need to be addressed”, with “significant investment” required to update the Government-owned company’s monitoring and surveillance methods.

“More regular and frequent use” should be made of helicopters and drones to identify problems, his task force found.

Some 1,900 failures of cuttings and embankments were reported between April 1 2003 and December 1 last year.

The report said the “correlation between earthworks failures and rainfall… is very strong and the total number of earthworks failures per month appears to be increasing”.