Rail safety issues and actions

Monitoring of severe weather and flood events

Issue number: RO-2011-019-SI-02
Who it affects: Rail infrastructure managers
Issue owner: Genesee & Wyoming Aust Pty Ltd (GWA)
Transport function: Rail: Freight
Background: Investigation Report RO-2011-019
Issue release date: 19 September 2012
Current issue status: Adequately addressed
Issue status justification:

GWA has proposed new policies/procedures, training and systems to mitigate risk of a similar recurrence.

Safety issue description

The warning systems in place to alert GWA staff as to the severity of a flood event at the Edith River Rail Bridge were ineffective.

Proactive Action

Action number: RO-2011-019-NSA-013
Action organisation: Genesee & Wyoming Aust Pty Ltd (GWA)
Date: 19 September 2012
Action status: Closed

GWA is actively engaged in the assessment of a range of systems designed to provide advance warning of extreme weather events and flooding at predetermined locations. To this extent, GWA is also reviewing the risk profile of the Tarcoola-Darwin railway relative to its structures and local hydrology with the aim of focussing attention and mitigating strategies against future flood events to potential high risk locations.

At the same time, GWA is establishing closer relationships with a range of Government agencies including the NT BoM and the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport with the aim of fostering a better understanding of the resources these agencies may be able to provide and any limitations that may exist in relation to the monitoring and reporting of extreme weather events and potential flooding. Lastly, GWA is pursuing the installation of Stream Flow Detection (SFD) system for the six (6) major bridges (as defined by ADrail and having a 30 metre span) north of Katherine.

The system will comprise of a detection unit, communication modem and two aspect signals. The position of these signals is yet to be determined but GWA is working towards having them sighted 2.5 km from the bridges. The unit will detect when water levels are about to reach the ‘top of formation’ and will provide an alert to both train control and train crews. This technology has been successfully implemented in the Pilbara region recently.

ATSB comment:

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is satisfied that the action proposed by Genesee & Wyoming Australia Pty Ltd will adequately address the safety issue.

Last update 31 January 2014