Runaway of a mobile elevated work platform


On 16 May 2021, at around 03:40 hrs, a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) ran away while being on-tracked at a road-rail access point (RRAP) near Belle Isle junction, north London. The MEWP was due to be used within an overnight possession of the track between Belle Isle junction and Canal Tunnel junction. The machine operator onboard the MEWP was unable to stop the vehicle and jumped from it as it was running away.


The MEWP ran away on a descending gradient (posted as 1 in 28) and travelled along the Up Canal Tunnel line towards St Pancras station. It subsequently came to a stop within a tunnel, with the total distance of the run-away being approximately 700 metres. No one was injured during the incident and no damage was caused to the vehicle or the infrastructure of the railway.


A preliminary examination by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) found that a hydraulic valve on the MEWP’s direct rail wheel braking system was not correctly set for operational use and that this was likely to have been the cause of the MEWP not being braked when it was on-tracked. RAIB also found that a similar occurrence on a different type of MEWP had been reported via a National Incident Report (NIR) in 2016.


The RAIB investigation will consider the sequence of events that lead to the incident. It will also consider:

  • The configuration of the RRV’s braking system at the time of the accident.

  • Recent maintenance activities undertaken on the machine and the arrangements used to confirm the effectiveness of braking systems following maintenance.

  • The methods used to ensure that the machine had effective braking performance when in operational service.

  • The arrangements for reporting technical issues relating to road-rail vehicles.

  • Any relevant underlying factors.

This investigation is independent of any investigation by the railway industry or by the industry’s regulator, the Office of Rail and Road.


Rail Accident Investigation Branch June 2021

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