Rail safety investigations & reports

Collision between Indian Pacific Passenger Train 3AP88 and Freight Train 3PW4N, Zanthus, WA, 18 August 1999

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At 1706 hours on 18 August 1999 the Indian Pacific passenger train No. 3AP88,Adelaide to Perth, was inadvertently directed onto the loop line at Zanthus where afreight train, No. 3PW4N, Perth to Whyalla was standing and as a consequence a lowspeed collision occurred between the two trains. The collision resulted in seventeenpassengers and four train crew members being conveyed to Kalgoorlie Hospital by theRoyal Flying Doctor, luggage/smoking lounge car HM311, on the Indian Pacificpassenger train derailing and sustaining extensive damage and significant damagesustained to locomotives NR51, NR15 and passenger coaches. The east west rail linkat Zanthus was closed to train operations until 1305 hours on August 19, 1999.

At the time of the collision, there were one hundred and eighty one (181) passengers,sixteen (16) Great Southern Railway On Train staff and five (5) Train Crew (drivers)on the two (2) trains. Thirty one (31) passengers and fourteen (14) On Train staffhave reported sustaining some injury or side effects. Of the twenty one (21) personsconveyed to Kalgoorlie Hospital by the Royal Flying Doctor, only two (2) were heldin hospital overnight for observation. One remained in hospital subsequently forsome weeks.

There was no damage incurred to track and infrastructure.

The Indian Pacific Passenger train 3AP88 is owned and operated by Great Southern Railway using locomotives and locomotive crews provided on a "Hook and Pull"contract with National Rail Corporation. Freight service 3PW4N is operated byNational Rail Corporation.

Australian Rail Track Corporation owns the track section and provides Train Controlmanagement from the Adelaide Control Centre. The train management safeworkingsystem in operation over the section of line is a Train Order System. Mainline toloop points are fitted with electric points motors, equipped with mechanical pointindicators and coloured light indicators, which are activated locally by push buttonswitches provided in a control box at the equipment room.

The investigation found that the collision resulted from a crew member of train3PW4N operating a push button control, as 3AP88 approached the points, alteringthe setting of the main line points from normal to reverse diverting train 3AP88 on tothe loop. There was no mechanical or electrical interlocking system to prevent themovement of the points in front of the approaching train.

Procedural measures have been instituted to prevent a similar occurrence in the shortterm pending completion of a system upgrade being undertaken by Australian RailTrack Corporation. The system upgrade will provide a time interlock designed toprevent the movement of the points for a precise period related to the stopping timefor an approaching train. The upgrade programme has commenced and is expected to be completed by December 1999.

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[Download  PDF: 678KB]
General details
Date: 18 August 1999   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1706    
Location: Zanthus    
State: Western Australia    
Release date: 14 September 1999   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  
Last update 29 May 2014