Derailment of a freight train at London Gateway

At around 5.45am on 24 December 2021, the 10.35pm GB Railfreight operated freight service from Hams Hall (near Birmingham) to London Gateway derailed on the downhill Thames Haven line as it approached the port of London Gateway, near Stanford-le-Hope in Essex.

The freight train involved consisted of a Class 66 locomotive and 33 cars, all of which were of the “flatbed” type. The initial derailment occurred on infrastructure run by Network Rail, when the lead bogie of the 12th carriage derailed in a straight line at around 13 mph (20 km/h). The train continued to travel for approximately 500 meters after this initial derailment, before reaching a set of opposite points inside the harbor limits, when four other carriages derailed.

The wagon involved in the initial derailment is the middle wagon of an Ecofret2 set. This consisted of three wagons semi-permanently connected to each other by steel drawbars. The car involved in the initial derailment is the only one in the train not loaded with a container.

There were no injuries in the derailment, but significant damage was done to track and signal equipment inside the harbor limits. The rail link to the port remained closed until temporary repairs allowed it to reopen on January 4, 2022.

Our investigation will seek to identify the sequence of events that led to the accident. It will take into account the status of track conditions, car loading, car characteristics, how the train was run and any underlying management factors.

Our investigation is independent of any investigation conducted by the rail industry or the industry regulator, the Railway and road office.

We will publish our findings, including any recommendations to improve security, upon completion of our investigation. This report will be available on our website.

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