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Freight train and a utility

Risks are not confined to the road vehicle and occupants – there is also a high likelihood of train derailment after any track collision, with significant associated risks to the train crew, passengers, freight and infrastructure.

Vehicle position post collision. Source: NT Police

On 12 October 2014, Train 7MD3 (comprising two locomotives, crew car and 78 wagons loaded with manganese ore) struck a utility road vehicle, at a speed of about 70 km/h, on a track near the Katherine River Bridge in the Northern Territory.

While the road vehicle became lodged under the lead bogie, the locomotive and the trailing wagons remained on track. The train travelled approximately 500 m further before finally coming to rest atop a culvert bridge, with the damaged vehicle hanging precariously over the right side of the bridge.

This occurrence highlights the very significant risk of injury, death and serious damage that is associated with road vehicle operators attempting to cross railway tracks in areas other than designated level crossings.

The co-driver contacted Train Control and reported the collision while the driver went to the crew car to ensure the wellbeing of the other train crew before all three returned to the lead locomotive. One of the crew inspected the road vehicle and ascertained that no one was trapped inside.

Northern Territory Police officers attended the scene and provided assistance to all four crew members. Neither the driver of the vehicle nor any of the train crew was injured in the collision, although one member of the train crew was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure. All crew members were relieved from duty. The driver of the vehicle was interviewed by the Northern Territory Police. During the interview, the driver informed the interviewing officers that he had been attempting to traverse the track just west of town when his car became stuck. Upon realising the approach of a train he had attempted to warn the train by flashing a torch.

Read the full ATSB investigation report: RO-2014-017



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Last update 24 February 2015