Final Report


What happened

At 2026[1] on 8 November 2014, train 735, a TasRail intermodal freight service, departed Burnie bound for Brighton in Tasmania. The train travelled to Conara Junction and stopped to complete a scheduled change of driver. At 0303 on 9 November 2014, train 735 resumed its journey to Brighton.

After passing through the Rhyndaston tunnel, the train commenced its descent into Colebrook. During the descent, the driver noted that the train was travelling at below the track speed limit at 20 km/h and took actions to speed the descent. Subsequently, the train rapidly accelerated to above the track speed limit, and at 0521 it derailed at the 64.7 km mark near Colebrook after failing to negotiate a left curve in the track.

The derailment caused extensive damage to both locomotives, the nine wagons and the track.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the driver’s delayed reaction to the acceleration of train 735 allowed it to travel at an excessive speed of 65 km/h in a section of track with a 35 km/h speed limit around a track curve located at the 64.7 km mark. The train’s excessive speed as it traversed the curve, created forces that caused the locomotives and wagons to roll over and derail. It was apparent that the driver of train 735 made inappropriate decisions regarding managing the momentum of descent.

Examination of TasRail’s driver training, competency assurance and fatigue management processes found no inadequacies that could be held as contributory to the driver’s handling of the train during the descent. Accordingly, and based on the available evidence, it appeared that the erroneous train handling techniques applied in this case were atypical and not reflective of training delivered by TasRail or the broader capabilities of its drivers.

What's been done as a result

TasRail has developed further strategies to ensure train drivers have, and are able to maintain, adequate route knowledge, situational awareness and train management skills. TasRail also implemented an advanced train control system, which provides for improved monitoring of rail vehicles, including train handling (over-speed) alarms/alerts to both the driver and train controller.

Safety message

Safely negotiating a train’s passage over undulating terrain relies heavily on the train driver closely and continually monitoring the train’s performance; proactively applying the appropriate handling techniques and driving strategy to ensure train speeds remain within prescribed limits at all times.

Location map – Tasmania

TasRail Network Location Map

Source: NatMap Railways of AustraliaTasRail Network


  1. The 24-hour clock used in this report is Australian Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety action

Sources and submissions