Rail worker fatally struck by 90mph train near Northampton "did not look", says accident report

Inspectors find dad-of-two raised his arm after hearing warning horn, but did not step off track in time

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 1:40 pm
Dad-of-two Aden Ashurst was hit by a train while working on the track near Northampton in April last year

A railway worker killed on the track near Northampton last year did not see an approaching train when he was fatally struck, a report has concluded.

Track worker Aden Ashurst. 51, was working on a cutting bank next to the West Coast Main Line at Ashton — just south of Roade — on April 8.

But CCTV from the drivers cab of a 12-car London-bound service showed the dad-of-two walking along the track before the train hit him at around 90mph.

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Mr Ashurst was working on a section of embankment at Ashton when he was fatally struck

A report by Rail Accident Investigation Branch inspectors published today (June 9) concluded Mr Ashurst was walking along a line that was open to traffic and "did not look towards the approaching train" despite it sounding a warning horn twice.

Inspectors added: "He probably believed that a train would not arrive so soon."

The report said witnesses saw Mr Ashurst raise his right arm in acknowledgment of the train horn and was seen on CCTV walking towards his left, stepping over the left-hand rail before being struck.

Mr Ashurst, who worked for maintenance contractors AmcoGriffin, went back on the track after carrying out a task but the RAIB identified a number of "casual factors."

Inspectors confirmed Mr Ashhurst was walking away from the approaching train when he was struck

The report said: "It had previously been evident that the track worker did not always work in a way that was consistent with rules, standards and procedures.

"Evidence suggests that the track worker did not always follow rules, standards and procedures, and had become habituated to warnings from approaching trains.

"The track worker’s apparent diminished perception of the risk from trains had not been identified and corrected.

"A possible causal factor is that the system of work in place did not encourage safe behaviour on site and an underlying factor is that AmcoGiffen did not have any formal performance monitoring and appraisal arrangements for identifying and monitoring development needs and their implementation for operational staff."

Mr Ashurst, from Wigan, had a two-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. He worked for rail contractors AmcoGiffen since graduating as a civil engineer four years earlier.

Witnesses told the inspectors they did not know why Mr Ashhurst — who was the person in charge of the work with responsibilities as Controller of Site Safety — had gone back onto the track.

But the report added: "Several witnesses reported he was in the habit of taking photographs of the work with his mobile phone.

"These were frequently shared with colleagues via a social media app to keep them updated about the progress of the project."

AmcoGiffen told inspectors since the accident, it has started a series of initiatives aimed at ensuring the safety of its staff while on the railway.