AN investigation is underway after three goods wagons broke loose from a train and rolled on to a busy main line.
The incident happened on Saturday morning, when the wagons, which were being pulled around the internal rail system within the Tata Steel pipe mills site in Brenda Road, Hartlepool, came loose.
It is understood they rolled down an incline for about a quarter of a mile before smashing through a gate and on to the track which is used by local trains heading between Middlesbrough and Hartlepool as well as the high-speed Grand Central service between Sunderland and King’s Cross.
The wagons came to a stop after triggering a safety mechanism, which in turn ensured a red light appeared on the main line to warn other train drivers of a problem.
No-one was hurt in the incident, but bosses at Tata Steel are now carrying out an internal investigation to find out what caused the wagons to come loose.
Trains were disrupted for around 40 minutes while the loose wagons were hauled back to the Brenda Road site.
Tata Steel spokeswoman Rachel Cox said: “Tata Steel is carrying out an investigation after three wagons moved down our track and off our Hartlepool site on Saturday morning.
“No-one was injured in the incident. The wagons safely came to a standstill after the automatic safety mechanisms that are in place to deal with this type of situation worked effectively to derail the wagons and trigger a red light on the main rail line.
“Tata Steel is working with its contractors involved in the supply of rail services on our site to determine the cause of the incident, and any changes that need to be made to ensure this type of incident cannot happen again.
A spokesman for Network Rail, which operates the track, said: “The rail wagons came on to the track from the steel plant, and caused some damage to the track when they briefly derailed.
“The incident happened just before 8am, and the line was back in service around 40 minutes later.
“The driver of a train on the mainline saw the red light, and stopped. In this instance, the signal system did exactly what it is designed to do.
“The rail accident investigation branch has been informed of the incident, which is standard procedure.”