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Train collision prompts procedure change

Collision between the two trains at Dry Creek, SA

A collision between two freight trains at Dry Creek in South Australia has resulted in a rail operator amending its procedures for situations when trainee drivers are under supervision.

The accident occurred on 11 October 2011 as an empty ore train, was being driven by a driver-in-training with a co-driver supervising.  As they proceeded on the interstate main line from Pelican Point to Rankin Dam (near Coober Pedy), the drivers were expecting a clear run without any stops through Dry Creek. The supervising driver was completing an administrative task and the driver-in-training, who was learning the route, became distracted by the headlights of a train ahead, believing it was in an adjoining yard. As a result, they missed an important caution signal, indicating that the train should stop at the next signal.

When the train was about 100 m from the signal, the driver noticed the stop signal. He used the emergency train brake, but passed the stop signal. The train travelled a further 218 m before colliding with the middle of the other train, loaded with grain, which was leaving the interstate main line and entering the adjoining rail yard.

The collision was at low speed and there was no injury to the crew of either train. There was significant damage to the crew cab of the lead locomotive of the ore train and to the grain wagons of the grain train.

Following the accident, the operator amended its procedures to clarify the role and responsibilities of a driver supervising a trainee, and introduced arrangements to inform the supervising driver of the trainee’s level of competency.

Robust procedures that systematically manage the supervision, training and assessment of drivers’ route knowledge are vital for ensuring competency and addressing risks.

Read the full report of RO-2011-016.

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Last update 03 April 2013