Posted 11th March 2013 | 4 Comments

Investigations launched into tunnel drill damage

FIRST CAPITAL CONNECT has praised the vigilance of drivers on its Northern City route from Moorgate, after drills from a construction site broke through into the tunnel.

The driver of the 10.02 Moorgate to Welwyn Garden City service on Friday morning reported that muddy water had been pouring from the roof near Old Street, and the line was closed as a precaution.

At 11.05 a Network Rail Mobile Operations Manager joined another driver on board an empty train from Moorgate which was worked cautiously along the route. As the train approached the damaged area at low speed, two large piling drills came through the skin of the tunnel. The train stopped in time and no one was hurt, but FCC described the driver as 'shaken'.

FCC Managing Director Neal Lawson said: “This is a serious incident that could have ended very differently had it not been for the vigilance and prompt reporting and actions of our drivers. We carry two million people a year on the Northern City Line and whoever is responsible for this must be held to account."

The line stayed closed for the rest of Friday, and Network Rail said specialist tunnelling contractors had been sent to the scene to assess the damage.

Inquiries have been launched by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, the London Borough of Hackney and British Transport Police, whose officers have visited the offices of the construction site above the tunnel.

FCC said Northern City services were able to restart on schedule this morning after Network Rail engineers had confirmed that the tunnel was safe.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Alan M Dransfield, exeter

    We cannot possibly continue to escape a Rail Catastrophe by good fortune alone. Take the TESCO Tunnel Collapse in London a couple of years ago.
    It is fairly obvious these Contractors had NO Risk Assessment or Method Statement or at least an approved MS-RA otherwise this incident would not have happened.

    I have reported numerous H&S dangers down here in Devon and to date, nobody has taken me seriously.

  • Keiron Riley, Manchester

    Do these cowboys not carry out proper surveying?

  • Melvyn Windebank, Canvey Island, Essex

    This tunnel is also unusual in that it was built to Main Line size and was planned to take Great Northern commuters direct to the City. However, the trains remained steam hauled and the trains ended up going via Kings Cross to Moorgate via City Widened lines.

    It then became part of The Northern Line and pre war plans were to extend this line via Highgare, East Fichley and Mill Hill East but these plans were stopped by the war and cancelled after the war.

    Then came Great Northern electrification and from 1996 this tunnel was finally used for which it was built for 70 years earlier.

    And now with Thameslink news that the new Thameslink trains won't fit these tunnels has been given so wither Great Northern tunnels the Crossrail of its day! What a shame the Victoria Line was not built to mainline guage!

    I suppose transfer of Moorgate inner suburban services to TFL as part of Overground might be one answer?

  • James Palma, London

    The Northern & City line, at this location, just north of Old Street, is one of the examples where the early tube railways (this one was opened in 1904), passed under property. Normally they followed the public highway, so that they did not need to an easement for the tunnels. When I went to investigate the site earlier today, the piling rig was in its horizontal position and obvioulsy out of use. However, works were still going on on the construction site. I wonder how much longer that development will be underway because the cost of suspending services, investigation and fixing the tunnel, will no doubt be charged to the developer. If they aren't they should be!! Never mind the due diligence that the HSE will be investigating.

    This is why London Underground ALWAYS encourages developers or those undertaking works in the London area to contact their specialist Infrastructure prtection team before undertaking works. Fortunately, these events are rare, but are highly dangerous. I often contact them when I am undertaking works in London, just to make sure their railway won't be affected.