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view document PDF (1.5Mb download)A Report of an Inquiry into the Collision that occurred on 21 July 1991 at Newton Junction

Document Summary

The report into the Newton collision.

This document was published in November 1992 by Health and Safety Executive.

It was written by Health and Safety Executive.


This item is linked to the Accident at Newton on 21st July 1991


The original document format was Bound Booklet, and comprised 60 pages.

This document was kindly sourced from Ian Brightmore and is in our Accident reports collection. It was added to the Archive on 10th September 2005.

Copyright Information

This document is Crown Copyright, and is subject to the terms governing the reproduction of crown copyright material. Depending on the status and age of the original document, you may need an OPSI click-use license if you wish to reproduce this material, and other restrictions may apply. Please see this explanation for further details.

"The evening of Sunday 21 July 1991 was clear, dry and warm. Dusk was just falling when at 2156, the 2155 Newton to Glasgow train (number 2P55) driven by Driver Reginald McEwan, after leaving the Down platform at Newton Station, collided violently head-on with the 2055 Balloch to Motherwell train (2J66) driven by Driver David Scott, which was approaching Newton. The collision occurred at a combined speed of around 60 mile/h on the single track on the west side of the station...

This report...concludes that on the balance of probabilities, Signal M145, the platform starting signal, was showing a red aspect when it was passed by Driver McEwan's train; that Driver Scott's train was signalled to proceed into Newton Station; that in the particular circumstances and the time available it was in reality, if not in theory, impossible to expect Signalman Dillon both to recognise the indication of impending catastrophe on his signal panels and to send radio messages to the drivers in time for them to stop their trains; and that the integrity of the signalling system at Newton was not in doubt though serious questions arise as to its local reliability and manner of installation. The safety and reliability of Solid State Interlocking (SSI) systems in general, of which the Newton system is an example, were considered at length and are not regarded as compromised.

That three very serious accidents have occurred in the recent past at single-lead junctions cannot be ignored. Accepting that single-track working has been a feature of railway operations since they began, and can be safely signalled on the basis of long-established principles, this report questions the total reliance that BR has placed in some higher risk situations on drivers' behaviour in observing signals, when there is a very substantial body of evidence of the number of signals passed at danger each year. In some circumstances, such as those where single-lead junctions are entered by trains leaving platforms protected only by the platform starting signal, the risks of head-on collisions are significantly higher. The accidents at Bellgrove, Hyde and Newton were similar in this respect."

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