Classification yard Kijfhoek. Photo: Flickr

Dutch Kijfhoek meets safety standards after row of accidents

Rail infrastructure at Dutch classification yard Kijfhoek meets 94.6 per cent of the standards. This conclusion was drawn by the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT), based on investigations carried out this year. ILT’s supervision of the site was tightened last year following a number of serious accidents and incidents.

According to the investigation, there were no acutely unsafe situations detected. However, the number of switches meeting the standards was lower (87.2 percent) than the national average (97 percent). The ILT wants ProRail to take action in the short term to make sure the switches at Kijkhoek meet the standard.

Risk analysis

The ILT also concluded that ProRail must always perform a risk analysis in the event of breaches of standards that may affect safety. The inspectorate believes that this is done insufficiently at Kijkhoek at the moment. For the remainder of this year, it will monitor when and whether the suggested improvements are successfully implemented.

Since the accidents of last year, the inspectorate has since been present at all planned construction work on the railroad track. From October 2018 these inspections were scaled down. Up till now, the ILT is still present at all repair work carried out after a failure. In addition, inspectors pay an unexpected visit twice a week at other activities.

Physical state

The general safety situation at Kijfhoek was also examined. To this end, the ILT investigated the physical state of the railway infrastructure beginning 2019. Switches, crossings/paths, tracks (100 m sections), ES welds, flyovers and relay boxes were inspected. This research shows that the quality of the railway infrastructure at Kijfhoek is currently sufficient.

In addition to switches that do not meet ProRail’s standards, the ILT also sees that the wear and tear of rail objects is higher due to heavy goods transport than in the rest of the Netherlands. The inspectorate therefore wants to see changes at ProRail in the short term.

Investigation

On Wednesday, the Dutch State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management and ProRail received the research results. The results of a study by the Crisislab commissioned by ProRail were also submitted to the Lower House this week.

On 15 June a wagon carrying dangerous goods rolled down a hill, colliding with a flat wagon. The flat wagon derailed as a result. It was the fourth accident that took place in less than two months, urging the ILT to start an investigation into the safety situation at the site. ProRail commissioned an independent investigation into the safety culture at Kijfhoek.

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Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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