BBC News 5th June 2002

The operation to remove a derailed train from tracks near Castlerock on Northern Ireland's north coast is continuing on Wednesday. 
Twelve people were treated in hospital after the derailment on Tuesday. The line is likely to be closed for several days - a bus service is operating between Coleraine and Londonderry.
The accident is believed to have been caused by a landslide.The train driver and seven passengers were injured when the 1250 BST Londonderry to Belfast train came off the line as it was approaching the Downhill tunnel near Castlerock on Tuesday.

BBC News 7th June 2002

The cause of Tuesday's derailment of a train in County Londonderry is not in dispute, Regional Development Minister Peter Robinson has said.

He visited the site at Downhill near Castlerock on Thursday night.

It is understood the minister will receive details of an investigation into the accident by public transport operating company Translink before addressing the assembly on the accident.

BBC News 16th July 2003

​Train crash 'avoidable'
Train was derailed by boulder on track
A report into a train crash in County Londonderry has concluded that if the driver had received a warning one minute earlier, the accident could have been avoided.
Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate has been investigating the accident which happened at Downhill near Castlerock on 4 June 2002.The Londonderry to Belfast train was derailed and six people were injured when boulders from a nearby cliff ended up on the line. 
It had been claimed that the crash was the result of a series of unlikely events but in his report, the Railways Inspector concluded that, in fact, the rock falls from the cliff at Downhill could have been foreseen.
The injured, including the driver, were treated in hospital after the incident.
The driver, who suffered leg wounds, was the most seriously injured.
​Twenty-two passengers and two crew were on board the three carriages at the time of the crash.


On Wednesday, Gerald Kerr of Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate, found there were a number of management deficiencies in Northern Ireland Railways which were contributory factors in the accident.

​He also reported the design of the 25-year-old train was a contributing factor in the seriousness of the derailment and to the injury to the driver.

​The report also found the police, the Department of Regional Development and Translink could have dealt with the accident better.

​Mr Kerr said the risk of a rock falling from the Downhill Slope and resulting in a derailment, either directly or indirectly, had not been properly evaluated by NIR prior to the derailment.


​Further incidents of rock fall will occur in the Downhill area and present a risk of injury particularly to residents, and to a lesser extent, road and rail users, he added.


​The report also found that if NIR had received the information in the order of one minute earlier it is likely the accident could have been prevented.


​Mr Kerr said the cliffs should be regularly checked in the future for signs of danger.​

"The report concludes that rock falls from the cliffs at Downhill were foreseeable and that further rock fall will occur in the future which will pose a risk to residents and to a lesser extent road and rail users," Mr Kerr said.

​"It is clear that, notwithstanding the injuries sustained in this derailment it was only by chance that a much more serious incident did not occur.


​"Whilst the risk of rock fall at Downhill remains I urge the various parties to work together and take effective action to reduce the risks of a further rock fall event causing injury," said Mr Kerr.​


Mr Kerr also urged the PSNI to urgently identify an unexplained technical fault, which led to their systems failing to record the details and timings of the two emergency calls made by an eyewitness.


​He said that consequently he was unable to confirm that the information was transmitted to NIR from PSNI in a prompt fashion.


Translink spokesman Ciaran Rogan said he welcomed the report.​



"The report concludes that this incident occured as the result of many factors which combined over a very short period of time.


"Some of them (were) unforseeable, some of them possibly improbable." 


He said Translink engineers who had assessed the sloping within standards applicable in Great Britain had concluded that no action was necessary. 


"I don't accept we were complacent. The rock slope was assessed against the industry standards and no action was deemed necessary," he said. 

"Independent experts said that the incident was, and I quote, in practical terms 'unforeseeable'.Now it happened. 


"The inspector has made recommendations as regards altering the assessment procedures for things like rock slopes and we sign up fully to implementing those recommendations."



We found this image on the Wiki commons site of Driving Trailer 740 sat on the deck after being winched off the track

The Downhill Train Crash

​On 4th June 2002 at Downhill near Castlerock the 80 Class DEMU hit some boulers which had rolled down from the nearby cliffs

We found out about it from the BBC website so instead of a writeup we are going to copy and paste their articles.

BBC News 4th June 2002
​A train driver and seven passengers have been injured when a train came off the line in County Londonderry.
The 1250 BST Londonderry to Belfast train came off the line as it was approaching the Downhill tunnel near Castlerock, between Coleraine and Derry shortly after lunchtime on Tuesday.
A police spokesperson said recent heavy rain was believed to be responsible for a landslide which saw rocks and boulders land on the track and two adjacent public roads.
The train was approaching downhill when the driver saw a boulder on the track.
He applied the emergency brake, but could not stop the train in time.
Fatalities could have occurred not only on the railway but also on the road
Ciaran Rogan TranslinkTwenty-one people, including the driver, were on board the three carriages when they were derailed Six people are being treated in the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine.
Two others were released after treatment. The driver of the train, who is the most seriously hurt, is being treated for leg injuries.
One of the carriages was forced onto the beach adjacent to the trackInvestigation, Among those taken to hospital were five people suffering from angina, one of whom is an 84-year-old woman. 
​They had complained about chest pains and are being kept in hospital for observation. 
Translink's Ciaran Rogan said there would be a thorough investigation into the accident."It could have been a lot more serious," he said. "Fatalities could have occurred not only on the railway but also on the road and we will be taking it up with the landowners of the land adjacent as to exactly what their management and maintenance routine was for the cliffs here." East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said more needed to be done to make everyone that comes into contact with the railways aware that such a thing could happen."When we look at the scale of the problem here, we could have been talking about fatalities," he said. The DUP assembly member added: Any measures that can be put in place, although it is difficult to legislate for this sort of thing, I am sure will be put in place immediately.
"Maurice Walker, who lives near the scene, said: "The lead coach is over on the shore side, it has keeled over and separated entirely from the rest."The centre coach is on the land side and the rear coach is keeled over at 45 degrees along the track.
"Police said the Coast Road and Castlerock Road have been closed to traffic.
BBC News Report 16th July 2003

​Conclusions on train crash

Train design added to seriousness of derailment 
A report into a train crash in County Londonderry in which six people were injured has been published.
Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate has been investigating the accident which happened at Downhill near Castlerock on 4 June 2002.
In his report published on Wednesday, Principal Inspector Gerald Kerr found that there were a number of management deficiencies in Northern Ireland Railways which were contributory factors in the accident.


His report made the following conclusions:


  • The radio equipment on the train was in working order and capable of sending and receiving messages.


  • VHF radio reception along parts of this coastline is poor. However, tests carried out on radio reception indicate that, under normal circumstances, the driver should have been able to receive at least the first (of the three) radio broadcasts.


  • During the time the Northern Ireland Railways (NIR) control room were attempting to contact the driver, the train radio is likely to have been switched off or at a volume which did not allow the driver to hear the broadcasts.


  • The police and NIR did not come to a clear understanding as to the seriousness or the exact location of the incident.


  • Due to an unexplained technical fault, PSNI (police) systems failed to record the details and timings of the two emergency calls made by the eye witness. Consequently, I am unable to confirm that the information was transmitted to NIR from PSNI in a prompt fashion.


  • NIR Control Room Operator acted promptly on the information given by PSNI.


  • The design of the rolling stock was a contributory factor in the seriousness of the derailment and to the injury to the driver.


  • Some of the relevant evidence of a perishable nature was not collected.


  • The train did not have an emergency cut-off switch for the engine which caused concern for the members of the public attempted to rescue the injured driver.


  • Although there were outstanding maintenance defects on the train these did not contribute to the seriousness of the incident.


  • NIR had allowed the effectiveness of the radio system to fall below achievable standards in that they did not ensure procedures for operation were followed; have adequate maintenance arrangements for the systems as a whole.


  • Rock falls from all the cliffs in the Downhill area are foreseeable and some prediction of their outcome can be made.


  • The risk of a rock falling from the Downhill slope and resulting in a derailment (either directly or indirectly) had not been properly evaluated by NIR prior to the derailment.


  • Further incidents of rock fall will occur in the Downhill area and present a risk of injury, particularly to residents, and to a lesser extent, road and rail users.


  • Had NIR received the information in the order of one minute earlier, it is likely the accident could have been prevented.


  • Although Roads Service did not apply a sufficiently proactive approach to the management of slopes this was not a contributory factor in the accident.