Rail safety investigations & reports

Signal irregularity reported by crew of train 5BM7, Culcairn North, NSW on 7 April 2013

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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What happened

On 7 April 2013 southbound freight train 5BM7 was travelling at near track speed (115 km/h) on the main line of the Culcairn North passing loop in New South Wales. On rounding a sweeping right-hand curve the driver saw the headlight of an opposing train and also saw that the signal (CN03) ahead was at stop. He immediately made an emergency brake application to stop the train just before signal CN03 thereby averting a collision with the opposing train which was entering the southern end of the passing loop.

There were no injuries or damage as a result of this occurrence.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB investigation of available technical evidence, showed that the signalling system was operating correctly at the time of the incident and therefore the signal (DIS-CN03) preceding the signal at stop (CN03) should have been displaying a caution aspect (yellow). However, the crew of train 5BM7 had perceived signal DIS-CN03 at clear (green) and were therefore not expecting signal CN03 to be at stop (red).

As the train was not fitted with forward facing video equipment the ATSB was unable to substantiate the observations of the train crew with respect to the aspect of signal DIS-CN03.

What's been done as a result

The train operator, Aurizon, has advised that it has forward facing cameras on about 8.5 per cent of its locomotive fleet and that it is likely that this type of technology will be fitted to all locomotives purchased in the future.

The Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board (RISSB) has advised that it will encourage its membership and the wider rail industry to adopt the use of independent data validation systems, such as forward facing video on trains, to assist with coming to a better understanding of rail occurrence events, such as signal irregularities.

Safety message

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau encourages rail operators to consider the use of independent data validation systems, such as forward facing video on trains, to provide a source of information to assist in coming to an understanding of rail occurrence events, such as signal irregularities.

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General details
Date: 07 April 2013   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0145 EST    
Location   (show map): Culcairn North   Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation  
State: New South Wales    
Release date: 05 March 2014    
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Incident  
  Highest injury level: None  

Train details

Train details
Train registration 5BM7  
Type of operation Freight  
Damage to train Nil  
Departure point Brisbane, Qld  
Destination Melbourne, Vic  
Last update 14 November 2018