Rail safety issues and actions

Loading rules and procedures

Issue number: RO-2014-007-SI-01
Who it affects: All transporters of rod-in-coil product
Issue owner: Pacific National
Transport function: Rail: Freight
Background: Investigation Report RO-2014-007
Issue release date: 23 September 2015
Current issue status: Safety action pending
Issue status justification:

At the time of this report release, the safety actions advised by Pacific National had not yet been fully implemented.

Safety issue description

The Pacific National freight loading manual, and application of it, was ineffective at preventing load
shift with rod-in-coil product.

Proactive Action

Action number: NSA-019
Action organisation: Pacific National
Date: 23 September 2015
Action status: Released

Pacific National (PN) Assets and Infrastructure Services has engaged a consultant to conduct an audit of PN procedures and operational processes relating to the development and implementation of the Freight Loading Manual (FLM), specifically performing a gap analysis in relation to current steel loading processes. The key focus of this project will be processes relating to steel services within and ex-Newcastle (Morandoo terminal) which will provide a good overview of the application of the FLM across all major loading locations.

The scope of the project will include the interfaces and processes between Customers, the Freight Loading Manual (Engineering) itself and the PN Operations group. The following specifics will be within phase one of the project:

  • A study of the steel loading processes for Morandoo only in the first instance
  • A review of the Freight Loading Manuals (FLMs) and guidelines
  • An Inspection regime post-loading – how we ensure compliance against the FLMs if work is undertaken by a third party
  • Development of a load assessment tool, and
  • Identification of any recommendations.

It is proposed that the scope of work should be completed within a period of 20 days, finalised with a report comprising observations, findings and recommendations for improvement of the processes and interfaces relating to the Freight Loading Manual.

In addition, PN will be arranging an external engineering group to undertake a twist test and/or computer simulation modelling of an RCOF wagon to record its wheel loading performance characteristics during scenarios based on the data. The final report will contain recommendations that can be utilised to further refine our Freight Loading Manual and associated procedures and loading practices. This work is scheduled to commence in May 2015.

Pacific National have further advised improvements in the loading system, such as:

  • Revised interface agreement
  • Quality control pre departure
  • Revised despatch process
  • Pre departure inspections and training
  • Load fault handling, and

Further promotion of the freight loading manual including updates.

ATSB comment:

The ATSB acknowledges that Pacific National has initiated a review of their Freight Loading Manual and has taken action to ensure freight is loaded in accordance with established procedures prior to departure.

However, the ATSB draws attention to a fundamental requirement of freight loading, in that it is essential that the load is prevented from moving in any direction relative to the wagon, as a shifting load at any point during transit is an undesirable condition that can affect the dynamic behaviour and safety of the vehicle. While Pacific National’s action serves to ensure freight is loaded in accordance with the Freight Loading Manual upon commencement of its journey, no action has been proposed to specifically address the demonstrated potential for shifting and movement of the rod-in-coil product while in-transit. Accordingly therefore, the ATSB issues the following safety recommendation.


Action number: RO-2014-007-SR-01
Action organisation: Pacific National
Date: 23 September 2015
Action status: Monitor

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Pacific National undertake further work to address the possibility that rod-in-coil product could shift during transit, thereby creating an undesirable condition that could affect the dynamic behaviour of the vehicle.

Last update 23 September 2015