I would like to inform the House that the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has today published its final report on the rail accident which occurred near Grayrigg in Cumbria on 23 February 2007. A copy of the report is available in the House Libraries. Copies of the report are also available on the RAIB website at www.raib.gov.uk.
In summary, the report concludes that the immediate cause of the derailment was the deterioration of Lambrigg 2B points through a combination of failures of the three stretcher bars, the lock stretcher bar, and their fastenings. The unsafe condition arose as a result of a combination of three factors, which were the mechanical failure of a bolted joint, the incorrect set-up of the points and a track inspection that was missed on 18 February 2007. It makes a number of important recommendations to the rail industry aimed at ensuring that the lessons are learned from this accident.
I know that honourable and right honourable Members, and the travelling public, will want to be assured that the rail network is safe. The RAIB has already issued urgent safety advice to the rail industry—in June and November 2007—as its investigation progressed. The independent rail safety regulator, the Office of Rail Regulation, has assured me that no further immediate actions to ensure the safety of passengers and staff using Network Rail’s infrastructure are necessary as a result of the report, beyond those that have already been taken.
All RAIB investigations include a review of previous similar occurrences and the action taken in response to any related recommendations. In this context the RAIB reviewed the investigation into the accident at Potters Bar on May 2002.
I will consider the detail of the report carefully and take a decision on the most appropriate way forward, both with regard to the accident at Grayrigg and the derailment at Potters Bar, the inquest for which was adjourned in February 2007 pending the outcome of the investigations into Grayrigg. I will also write to the affected parties shortly to seek their views and anticipate announcing my decision to the House early in the new year.
I appreciate that this will mean a short further delay for the relatives of the bereaved, and I regret this. However, I consider it essential to ensure that the way forward is one that will deliver closure to those who were affected, as soon as possible. I am sure that the House will agree that it is important that full consideration is given to the RAIB report, and that the right decisions are made on how to proceed.