An Iarnród Éireann signalling engineer narrowly escaped being struck by a train after stumbling while trying to climb on to the platform of the station at Rush and Lusk in north Dublin last year.
A report by the Department of Transport’s Railway Accident Investigation Unit into the incident found the worker cleared the track with one second to spare before the train, which had been travelling at 112 km/h, passed him.
The incident occurred at around 10am on June 20, 2019 as the engineer was on the railway track near the Rush and Lusk station to inspect signalling equipment.
The RAIU reported that he was walking on the track in a northerly direction from the station when he noticed a Belfast-Connolly service approaching on the line.
After the engineer, who was carrying a cup and paperwork, crossed to the other track and signalled he had seen the passenger train, he noticed an empty Pearse-Drogheda service coming from the other direction.
The RAIU report noted he had three seconds from seeing the second train to clearing the track.
Investigators said he began to walk at pace towards the ramp of the platform but stumbled as he attempted to climb onto it and narrowly missed being struck by the train whose driver had applied an emergency brake.
Iarnród Éireann staff are meant to put themselves in a safe position at least 10 seconds before the arrival of a train.
The RAIU report said the worker did not suffer any injuries as a result of the incident.
The investigation said the engineer, who had worked with Iarnród Éireann for 30 years, had placed himself in a position of danger by not adhering to Iarnród Éireann’s rule book for carrying out his inspection.
It said the work could have been carried out without walking on the railway track.
The report said the engineer had made a last-minute decision to conduct his inspection from track level without first considering his safety.
It found he may also have momentarily lost situational awareness as he normally worked at night and had an incorrect expectation that it was safe to access the track.
The RAIU recommended Iarnród Éireann develop a formalised process for signal engineering staff working alone which should be completed before going near a railway line and which should consider whether it was necessary to go near the track and if local knowledge was required.
The report said the engineer had not taken extra care in an area of limited clearance and had not remained constantly on alert to put himself in a positon of safety after seeing the first train.
It also said the company should remind all staff of the requirement to wear high visibility clothing correctly as the engineer did not have his jacket zipped up correctly.
The RAIU said under slightly different circumstances the incident could have resulted in a serious accident with the potential for fatal or serious injuries.
A separate report by the RAIU this week also recorded another near miss involving an Iarnród Éireann worker on the Dublin-Galway line near Woodlawn station in Co Galway.
It found that measures taken by Iarnród Éireann to protect staff who patrol railway tracks were “not robust”.