Longueville english summary

publié le 9 avril 2008

Technical investigation report on the rail accident that occured at Longueville on 16 February 2005

On 16 February 2005, at 7:23 pm, train 117 710 from Provins (Seine-et-Marne) hit train 117 578 sidelong at Longueville station (Seine-et-Marne). Luckily, nobody was injured and only material damage was suffered : the front carriage of the train that was hit was split open, the locomotive that collided with it incurred chassis damage, and both the line and adjacent platform were deformed. The two trains involved were of the push-pull (with a driver’s cab at each end) “stainless” diesel type. The Longueville to Provins line is operated by the CFTA, a subcontractor of the SNCF.

At Provins station, the driver performed the procedure to secure train 117 710 incorrectly, as a result of insufficient mechanical protection of the handle on the reversibility lock. Thus, the mechanical system that switches the locomotives, as well as activating the brakes, was not locked in the “leading” locomotive position and instead found itself in an unstable position between the “leading” and “trailing” positions. The vibrations transferred from the engine to the switch system caused the brakes to be released, making the normal brake lever in the cab of the locomotive ineffective. When the driver noticed his train was drifting while stopped at the station, he did not make use of the emergency braking systems available to him. He only used the locomotive’s handbrake, which acts on a single axle (rather than four) and was not powerful enough to stop the train before it reached the shunting where train 117578 was stationary. The driver had insufficient knowledge of the professional behaviour to follow in an emergency situation.

The locomotive in question, a BB 66400 that had been in service since 1969, was faulty : the mechanical reversibility lock was not locked in the normal operating position. Thus, the engine’s vibrations caused the axle of the reversibility lock to rotate, deactivating the brakes.

The SNCF has been asked to modify locomotives of this type by making it impossible to action the reversibility lock incorrectly, or by replacing it with an electrical control system, or by including a check on the driver’s checklist to ensure that it is indeed locked.

The SNCF has also been asked to determine whether any other types of locomotive operating on the railways (whoever the operator concerned) and equipped with a similar brake inhibitor system need to be modified as a consequence of the incident, and to notify the owners.

As regards the experience of drivers, a seven-kilometre section of line such as Longueville - Provins is a rather enclosed environment in which to operate trains, and one that allows habits to form and provides little experience of unusual operating conditions. The main operator and its subcontractor, together with the DGMT, should re-examine such organisations, whose restricted operational scope does not allow real train driving experience to be acquired, and as a consequence, sufficient feedback of past events to be obtained.

On the management front, the CFTA must enhance its driver and conductor training programmes : drafting and implementation of training specifications, practical training on rolling stock, face-to-face interviews performed systematically, improved content in safety action plans.