Rail safety investigations & reports

Axle failure on XPT ST24, Culcairn, NSW, on 24 October 2014

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 2.65MB]

 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

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 2.65MB]

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety actions

Sources and submissions


General details
Date: 24 October 2014   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1221 EDT   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
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

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  
Last update 03 April 2020