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RAIB - Occupied wheelchair contacting passing train - update

Investigation into an occupied wheelchair coming into multiple contacts with a passing train at Twyford station, 7 April 2016

At around 10:52 hrs on 7 April 2016, a wheelchair occupied by a teenage girl moved towards the edge of platform 4 of Twyford station and into multiple glancing contacts with wagons of a passing freight train. The last contact pushed the wheelchair clear of the platform edge. The girl suffered a minor injury to her foot.

Prior to the accident, the wheelchair was stationary, behind the yellow line painted on the platform and facing parallel to the tracks. It was positioned next to the girl’s mother, who has stated that she had applied the brakes on the wheelchair.

Our investigation has been looking into:

  • the sequence of events which led to the accident
  • how the wheelchair moved into contact with the train, including any effects of wind turbulence generated by the passage of the train
  • previous research into such aerodynamic issues
  • any relevant underlying factors.

During August 2016 we commissioned testing at Twyford station to measure the velocity of slipstreams generated by passing freight trains similar to that involved in the incident. Preliminary analysis of the test results suggests that the slipstream at the time of the incident could have been sufficient to move the wheelchair with the parking brake partially applied; the likely degree of brake application is subject to further analysis.

Our investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry or the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

We will publish our findings, including any safety recommendations at the conclusion of our investigation; these will be available on our website.

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