RMT claims 18 of 20 safety recommendations from Carmont tragedy not enacted by Network Rail

A major trade union in the UK is calling out Network Rail for not acting on the majority of recommendations from the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) following the Carmont rail tragedy.

The derailment of a train at Carmont, near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire on 12 August 2020 saw three people fatally killed. RAIB published its report into the incident in March 2022 and identified badly constructed drainage by Carillion as the cause. It pointed blame at Network Rail for not having overseen or inspected the work properly.

The report concluded with 20 recommendations for Network Rail to better manage earthworks on the rail network.

Of these 20 recommendations, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) has claimed 18 remain open.

RMT has now claimed there is “increasing risk of another tragedy”, reporting a failure on the government and Network Rail’s behalf to act on the safety recommendations. It has specifically highlighted two areas of concern.

In relation to earthworks, the RMT drew attention to rail regulator Office of Rail and Road's (ORR's) recent annual review of the rail operator's performance where it stated it had “identified concerns with a reduction in volumes of earthworks-specific drainage and Network Rail’s proposal not to use dedicated drainage teams”. RMT stated that this was not consistent with one of the recommendations made by RAIB on managing rail infrastructure in more frequent extreme weather.

RMT further pointed to a recent RAIB report about an embankment washout under a passenger train at Haddiscoe, Norfolk. RAIB said the train involved was not prevented from entering the flooded section of track because Network Rail’s flood risk management processes were not effective at warning the track was at serious risk of flooding. RMT highlighted that this showed Network Rail is not effectively managing the risks to its assets and services associated with third party flood defences.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that the union would pause to remember the tragic deaths of the three who were killed, including RMT conductor member Donald Dinnie.

Lynch said: “Our thoughts are also with those who lost love ones in the accident at Carmont and the six people on the train who were injured.

“Unfortunately, we are faced with a toxic mixture of an increasing number of extreme weather events and Government and Network Rail cutting back on railway, safety instead of acting on safety recommendations.

“If the government and Network Rail does not give immediate priority to acting on these safety concerns and recommendations there is an increased risk of more accidents like Carmont putting rail workers and rail passengers at risk of harm.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “There were fundamental lessons learnt by Network Rail and the wider industry in the wake of the Carmont accident. As well as expressing our deep sorrow and regret at the loss of the lives of Christopher Stuchbury, Donald Dinnie and Brett McCullough, it’s important that we acknowledge it should not have taken this tragic accident to highlight those lessons.

“We are committed to ensuring Britain’s railway retains its standing as the safest major railway in Europe and we know there is no room for complacency as we work with our regulator, and industry partners, to maintain that record. Our plan is to double our investment in climate resilience over Control Period 7 (2024-2029) to over £1.6bn.”


As a consequence of the accident, RAIB made 20 recommendations for the improvement of railway safety. The areas covered include:

  • Better management of civil engineering construction activities by Network Rail and its contractors
  • Additional standards and guidance on the safe design of drainage systems
  • Improved operational response to extreme rainfall events, exploiting the full capability of modern technology, and based on a detailed understanding of the risk associated with extreme rainfall
  • Enhancing the capability of route control offices to effectively manage complex events
  • Extending Network Rail’s assurance regime to encompass route control offices
  • Addressing the obstacles to effective implementation of lessons learnt from the investigation of accidents and incidents
  • Measures to prevent derailed trains from deviating too far from the track (equipment fitted to track and/or trains)
  • Addressing train design issues identified by the investigation and better understanding the additional risk associated with the operation of older trains

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One comment

  1. There may well be a number of valid concerns raised by the RMT. However, with the current long-running dispute over pay and ticket office closures, along with the RMT being against the Government’s approach to running the railways generally, the claims risk being ignored.
    Regardless of this, am I naive or will not the ORR be checking on what NR are doing about minimising the risk of a repetition of the tragedy?

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