Wigan crane firm comes to the rescue after train crash

A Wigan heavy lifting firm’s expertise and clout were called upon to help in the aftermath of last month’s Salisbury train crash.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 12:30 pm
One of the stricken carriages is lifted off the tracks by an Ainscough crane

Two passenger trains collided on the approach to a tunnel near Salisbury station on October 31 and Standish-based Ainscough Crane Hire played a crucial role in the subsequent recovery operation.

Ainscough was contacted by Network Rail several hours after the crash, and requested to attend the site first thing the following morning.

The firm’s technical contracts manager for heavy cranes – Dave Baxter – travelled from the North West and was in Wiltshire by 7am to meet the Network Rail team.

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After it was confirmed that the five carriages that had to be removed from the tracks could not be jacked or lifted by a rail crane in isolation, Ainscough prepared a lifting plan that would see an 800 tonne mobile crane team up with a rail crane recover to remove the stricken carriages.

After the proposal was approved by Network Rail, Ainscough began to mobilise the huge crane from its previous job site near Rochdale, to enable it to rig up with an assist crane on a closed section of the A30 London Road in Salisbury.

The five carriages were lifted onto lorries where they were transported to The Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre, before being unloaded by additional Ainscough cranes ahead of further inspections.

The operation took more than a week to set up and complete.

Ainscough’s team for the project included Mr Baxter, crane operators Ashley Winter and Danny Carrick and the lift team of Mark Brown, Andy Melling, and Nigel Lindley.

Andrew Spink, Ainscough’s heavy cranes operations director, said: “This is the sort of job we hope we never have to work on, as doing so means there has been an incident which has put people’s safety in danger.

“Such incidents are thankfully rare in the UK, but we as a business stand ready to support our colleagues in the rail industry whenever we are needed. Therefore, when the call came through from Network Rail regarding the Salisbury crash, we immediately set to work in exploring the best lifting solution to clear the tracks and allow the repairing of the railway line and signalling equipment.

“It was unfortunately inevitable that the closure of such a busy road would cause disruption to the local community, but we were able to complete the lift programme as quickly as possible in order to minimise that inconvenience.

“We will continue to support Network Rail however we can following this incident. Our thoughts are with those that were hurt in the collision.”

Mr Spink said: “This is the sort of job we hope we never have to work on, as doing so means there has been an incident which has put people’s safety in danger.

“Such incidents are thankfully rare in the UK, but we as a business stand ready to support our colleagues in the rail industry whenever we are needed. Therefore, when the call came through from Network Rail regarding the Salisbury crash we immediately set to work in exploring the best lifting solution to clear the tracks and allow the repairing of the railway line and signalling equipment.”

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