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At about 1515 on 30 January 2009, northbound freight train 6MB2, owned and operated by Pacific National, derailed near the beginning of a left-hand curve located near the 8.915 track km point in Tottenham, Victoria. In total, 8 wagons derailed and about 400 m of timber sleepered track was damaged. Damage to rolling stock was minimal and there were no injuries as a result of the occurrence.

At the time of the derailment, major infrastructure works between Melbourne and Sydney were being carried out to improve the general track condition and operating efficiency on the standard gauge rail corridor.

Train 6MB2 derailed as it passed over a section of mainline track in the Tottenham Yard precinct that contained a build up of longitudinal rail stress after three consecutive days of very high ambient temperatures. Due to the extreme weather conditions, the Australian Rail Track Corporation had implemented heat speed restrictions for train operators between Tottenham and Albury, restricting trains to speeds not greater than 60 km/h.

When train 6MB2 approached the left-hand curve near the Ashley Street Bridge, the train crew observed that a small lateral misalignment had developed in the track. During the passage of the train the dynamic movement of the rail vehicles added sufficient force to increase the size of the misalignment as the train passed over it. A container flat wagon (NQKY 34695L), 31st in the consist, was the first vehicle to derail and it was positioned near the rear of the train.

No evidence was found that defective rolling stock components had contributed to the derailment and minor damage to the rolling stock was sustained during the derailment sequence.

The investigation found that as part of the project works, the Tottenham standard gauge passing loop was converted for mainline operation on 28 July 2008. A safety issue was identified where this section of track was not tested after the conversion to mainline to determine if any residual stress was present in the rails and if any treatments were necessary to reduce the likelihood of track misalignments.

Other safety issues identified that creep monuments had not been installed at the east end of the curve near where train 6MB2 derailed and the rails had not been punch marked to allow track inspectors to detect rail creep. In addition, a record of two rail welds carried out at the 8.351 km point on the 30 January 2009 had not been documented for future reference. Attention to both of these items were specific requirements of the V/Line Infrastructure Civil Engineering Circular 3/87.

Following the derailment, the Australian Rail Track Corporation reconstructed this section of track and replaced the timber sleepers with concrete sleepers as part of the Tottenham to Dynon infrastructure track upgrade.

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Safety issues

RO-2009-004-SI-01 - RO-2009-004-SI-02 - RO-2009-004-SI-03 - RO-2009-004-SI-04 -  

Stress testing rail following track disturbances

The section of track where train 6MB2 derailed, was previously utilised as the Tottenham standard gauge passing loop. It was not stress tested after slewing and welding when it was converted to mainline operation on 28 July 2008, 5 months before the derailment.

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2009-004-SI-01
Who it affects:Rail Infrastructure Owners and Maintainers
Status:No longer relevant


Measurement of rail creep

Regular monitoring and accurate measurement of rail creep was not carried out at the east end of the curve where train 6MB2 derailed in accordance with Civil Engineering Circular 3/87 - 70.2 and 70.3. Creep monuments were not installed on the east end of the curve following the work to convert the passing loop track to mainline operation in July 2008.

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2009-004-SI-02
Who it affects:Rail Infrastructure Owners and Maintainers
Status:No longer relevant


Referenced rail creep punch marks

Punch marks were not made on the rail and documented with references to monuments at the 9 km mark following the realignment of track west of the Ashley Street rail bridge. This omission precluded the detection of rail creep that may have been present during the October 2008 maintenance inspection.

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2009-004-SI-03
Who it affects:Rail Infrastructure Owners and Maintainers
Status:No longer relevant


Documenting of welds on continuous welded rail

A record of the welds carried out at the 8.351 km point at Tottenham on the 30 January 2009 was not documented in accordance with the requirements of Civil Engineering Circular 3/87.

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2009-004-SI-04
Who it affects:Rail Infrastructure Owners and Maintainers
Status:No longer relevant

General details
Date: 30 January 2009 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1515 EDT  
Location   (show map):Tottenham Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria  
Release date: 22 December 2010  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Train details
Train registration: Train 6MB2 
Type of operation: Freight Train 
Damage to train: Minor 
Departure point:Melbourne
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Last update 25 January 2017