Rumigny english summary

On Wednesday 16 June 2021, shortly after 3 a.m., dangerous goods train No. 48 843, consisting of a locomotive and twelve tank wagons carrying phosphoric acid, collided with a semi-trailer carrying a boat, stuck on level crossing No. 17 in the commune of Rumigny in the Ardennes. Visibility conditions were poor, it was pitch dark and the crossing had no public lighting.
The train, which was travelling at a speed of 92 km/h (57 mph) at the time of the collision, stopped several hundred metres after the level crossing (LC). The locomotive and the first eight tank wagons derailed. The locomotive rested on its left side. Some of the tank wagons were punctured and some of the product being transported escaped. The driver of the train, although injured, left after the collision at the obstacle-covering distance to protect against a possible new collision with a train coming from the opposite side.
The semi-trailer and the boat being transported were destroyed by the collision and the ensuing fire. The HGV driver, who had evacuated the scene before the collision, was uninjured, as were the drivers of the two escort vehicles.
The railway infrastructure was severely damaged at the level of the LC and for several hundred metres downstream from it. Signalling, track and power supply equipment were destroyed, bringing rail traffic to a standstill for several weeks.

The direct cause of the accident was the immobilisation of the low-clearance semi-trailer on the tracks shortly before the arrival of the train.

Investigations have ruled out the possibility that the HGV driver deliberately caused the collision.
The LC installations (train detection, flashing red lights, bells and lowering of the half-barriers) functioned correctly.
No element in the train’s handling was found to be a cause or a contributory factor in the accident.
One of the first responders was injured while surveying the damage to the railway infrastructure. He was quickly treated by the fire brigade.
The operations to remove equipment, clean up pollution and rebuild the tracks required considerable human and material resources because of the extent of the damage and the complexity of dealing with the transported product leaking from the damaged tanks.

Several factors played a part in the accident :
- The drivers of the road convoy did not comply with several regulations governing the movement of the convoy, in particular the requirement to notify SNCF Réseau (operator of the railway network) so that rail traffic could be stopped and the power supply to the catenaries cut off before the convoy crossed the LC ;
- The semi-trailer’s characteristics, despite the fact that its suspension had been raised, meant that it jammed when it hit the road as it crossed the tracks.

These factors have several underlying causes :
- The organisation, preparation and execution of this exceptional transport by the transport company were deficient in terms of compliance with the traffic authorisation order. No convoy leader was appointed. The drivers on site were not familiar with all the traffic regulations.
- This administrative document reflects the complexity of moving an exceptional load. It is voluminous, difficult to understand and apply, and comprises several documents with sometimes differing requirements.
- The dimensions of this convoy made it difficult to cross the LC. However, no prior reconnaissance with the vehicles, no study or feedback following a previous crossing by the transport company with other vehicles, appears to have sufficiently alerted the drivers to the conditions under which such a convoy could cross the LC.
- The road manager included this LC among the routes for exceptional convoys, without having been aware of the consequences of the work carried out a few years ago on the decking of the LC and the railway tracks. However, this work hardened the longitudinal profile of the road, making it even more difficult to cross the LC.
- The rail system was unable to provide a loop to make up for these breaches of the regulations by the road convoy.

In the light of these factors, the BEA-TT is formulating five recommendations and four invitations on the following topics :
- changes in the regulations governing the movement of abnormal loads with regard to the appointment of the convoy leader ;
- clarification of the requirements set out in the authorisation order ;
- the provision of data relating to the longitudinal profile of the road in the vicinity of and to the right of the LC to facilitate the preparation of journeys by road convoys ;
- safety on board the train driver’s cab ;
- exchanges between road and rail infrastructure managers ;
- the conditions under which first responders can intervene.

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