Rail operator warned of flood risk
Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) did not properly plan for flooding before a section of embankment washed away leaving a train suspended over a large hole, investigators have said.
The first carriage of a service with 150 passengers on board was on unsupported rails for 12 minutes, an inquiry found. The train did not derail and there were no injuries during the incident last summer near Belfast in Co Antrim.
Procedures should be developed to maintain the safety of the line during bad weather, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) recommended.
Its report said: "Northern Ireland Railway's weather-preparedness procedure did not include a plan for dealing with flooding or heavy rainfall."
A passenger train scheduled to operate between Belfast and Portrush on the north coast ran onto a section of washed out embankment near Knockmore just after 7am on June 28 last year.
The driver applied the emergency brake but was unable to stop the engine before the leading coach came to a halt on top of the gap. He reversed the train and there was no derailment.
The RAIB blamed heavy rainfall during the previous evening and a system of culverts which could not cope with the rainfall, leading to flooding.
Investigators said the train was sent up the line without any additional precautions despite the conditions and the driver was unable to see the wash out in time to stop.
Their report highlighted a lack of engagement between NIR and Rivers Agency about the potential for flooding.
The document recommended earthworks and structures be reviewed for flood risk and a plan for liaising with Rivers Agency be developed.