What Lead to the Stonehaven Train Derailment?

Poor weather conditions accompanied by torrential rains and thunderstorms have been blamed for the fatal crash which claimed the lives of the driver, conductor, and one passenger. Several passengers also sustained severe injuries.


The passenger train, composed of four carriages and two locomotives, was headed to Glasgow Queen Street from Aberdeen Station when the incident occured on Wednesday 12 August 2020. On the train were a total of nine people including the crew.


The incident occured on Wednesday 12 August | (c) RAIB

What caused the Crash?

According to investigators, torrential rain caused a landslip that blocked part of the railway line headed towards Glasgow. A train signaler informed the train driver of the landslip between Laurencekirk and
Carmont Signal.


The driver was advised to head back to Aberdeen so that it could be switched to the northbound track. The train reversed for more than a mile before it hit another landslip. Whilst the train tracks took a right curve, upon hitting the landslip the train shot forward in a straight
line for more than 100 yards.


The train took a direct hit from the parapet of the bridge. The first locomotive and the third passenger carriage overshot the bridge and fell off the side embankment. The first passenger carriage overturned and landed on its roof, alongside the second passenger carriage which landed on top of it.


A member of the public who saw billowing smoke alerted the authorities, who in turn dispatched an emergency crew to the scene. An alarm was also raised by an off-duty conductor who was travelling as a passenger aboard the train. He walked over a mile to trigger a signal box which alerts the authorities of impending danger on the tracks ahead.


An image from the scene of the crash showing the damage sustained | (c) Paul Devlin

Was the train overspeeding?

According to Derailment investigation specialist Mike McLoughlin, the train was on “a fairly normal speed” when the accident occured.
He said “strong clues as to what happened” will be evident after it has been scrutinised at which point the train left the tracks.


In the meanwhile, investigations are being carried out by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch, British Transport Police, Police Scotland, and the Office of Rail and Road. Rail Traveller will bring updates on these investigations as we receive them.


What are your thoughts on this tragic derailment? – Let us know below and what you think caused it.

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