A rail engineer came within two seconds of being struck by a train travelling at up to 110mph, a safety inquiry has found.

An investigation by the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) discovered a site safety controller had mistakenly been working on the wrong line moments before the potential catastrophe, with an Avanti West Coast train, near Euxton Junction.

Seconds before a potential collision, a passer-by had shouted a warning to the safety controller from a nearby footbridge.

But the worker still believed the line being worked on was closed and only managed to get to safety after the train's horn was sounded.

The safety controller (COSS) had been sent to the location on March 14 to undertake maintenance at a lineside location cabinet with a colleague.

Before setting out though the COSS had wrongly identified the cabinet as one beside the 'Down Fast' line from Preston, instead of the correct 'Up Fast' line adjacent.

The controller requested a line blockage for the 'Down Fast' line, to carry out the required work, which was granted by a signaller at 1.54pm.

Once this was done the controller then decided to walk back down the line south, towards an access point at Old School Lane.

The COSS was walking facing away from any train travelling south on the 'Up Fast' Line.

A technician colleague shouted a warning, the report noted, but the controller was too far away to hear.

The official report states: "The COSS was alerted to the approaching train, which was travelling at 110 mph, by a shouted warning from a member of the public on a nearby footbridge and by the train driver sounding the train’s warning horn.

"The COSS managed to move to a position of safety approximately two seconds before the train reached their location."

The safety controller and his colleague had worked together for some time and were familiar with the location, the report said.

The inquiry author added: "The (work order) issued to the team included details on the precise location of the access points, but there were no details of the location of any lineside equipment related to the tasks which were being completed.

"The work order given to the COSS only gave the line reference number but no further details on equipment location.

"This meant that the COSS had to look up the information themselves and made an error in doing so.

"Even though information was available at one of the access points which could have highlighted this error, this misunderstanding about the location of the line persisted once the team reached site.

"It ultimately led to the COSS walking without protection on a line open to traffic on which trains could travel at 125 mph."

Inspectors say the incident demonstrated the importance of following safety information in briefings and providing timely and accurate information regarding trackside operations.