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 What happened

On 24 October 2014, the Melbourne to Sydney XPT service ST24 was approaching Culcairn station when there was a severe vibration. The driver stopped at the station and upon inspecting the train found that the axle had broken adjacent to the bearing box on the fourth passenger carriage. There were no injuries to passengers or crew. The passengers continued their journey to Sydney on chartered buses.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the axle bearing had failed and completely seized, probably due to cage failure.

The probable cage failure caused the rollers to misalign and seize. This seizure of the rollers generated friction and excessive amounts of heat into the bearing journal. The heat applied to the bearing journal caused it to go ‘plastic’ and separate from the axle (commonly referred to as a screwed journal). In this case, much of the evidence was either lost or damaged beyond useful examination. Consequently, there was insufficient evidence available to determine why the bearing cage may have failed.

The ATSB also identified that ARTC train control, despite receiving reports of trackside fires, made contact with NSW Trains operations, rather than directly with the driver. It is unlikely that direct communication with the driver of ST24 would have resulted in a different outcome in this case because, by the time the potential cause of fires was known, ST24 was already on its way to Culcairn. However, in some scenarios, communicating directly with the train driver would likely ensure a more timely response to issues that may affect the safety of the network.

What's been done as a result

ARTC will ensure that all matters relating, or potentially relating to, the safety of a train operating on the network will be advised in the first instance to the driver of the involved train by the relevant Network Control Officer.

Safety message

Any issues with train services that can compromise the integrity and safety of the network must be communicated directly to the train driver. Communicating through a third party can compromise a timely response.

Broken Axel. Source: Sydney Trains
Source: Sydney Trains

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The occurrence

Context

Safety analysis

Findings

Safety actions

Sources and submissions

Appendices

 
General details
Date: 24 October 2014 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1221 EDT Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):Culcairn   
State: New South Wales  
Release date: 05 July 2016 Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: None 
 
Train details
Line operator: Australian Rail Track Corporation 
Train operator: New South Wales Trains 
Train registration: ST24 
Type of operation: Passenger 
Sector: Passenger - regional 
Damage to train: Minor 
Departure point:Melbourne, Vic.
Destination:Sydney, NSW
 
 
 
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Last update 05 July 2016