Southeastern to be sentenced over station overshoot

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Train operator Southeastern is to be sentenced over an incident on 8 November 2010 when one of its trains ‘overran a station by almost two-and-a-half miles’.

The incident involved a commuter train travelling from Charing Cross to Hastings in East Sussex, when it overshot Stonegate station by 2.43 miles.

The rail firm pleaded guilty at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court to charges under two sections of the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

Southeastern will be sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on 6 July.

A report into the incident by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch said the train was travelling at about 65 mph when it encountered ‘poor adhesion conditions as its driver applied the brakes to make the scheduled stop at Stonegate station. The train was unable to stop at Stonegate and came to a stand some 2.45 miles (4 km) beyond the station’.

The RAIB investigation identified factors including ‘very low adhesion conditions present at Stonegate’ and the ‘leading sand hoppers were almost certainly empty’.

It said that ‘although there is no evidence that the quality of the rail head treatment was causal in this particular incident, Network Rail has changed the regime and material that it uses to treat the rail head in the Kent route during the leaf fall season, and has installed equipment to apply adhesion enhancement gel to the rails at Stonegate’.

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