Rail safety investigations & reports

Collision between freight trains 2MP1 and 2MP9 at Mile End, SA on 31 March 2015

Investigation number:
RO-2015-007
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final Report

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What happened

At about 0730 (CDT) on 31 March 2015, intermodal freight train 2MP9 passed No. 1 signal at the southern end of the Mile End crossing loop (South Australia). The signal was displaying a 'Calling on/Low speed’ indication. The train proceeded at low speed, but subsequently collided with the rear end of intermodal freight train 2MP1, which was stationary on the main line. The collision resulted in moderate track damage and the derailment of three wagons at the rear of train 2MP1. There were no injuries to train crews.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB determined that the signalling and communications systems were operating correctly and as designed. The investigation found that the driver of train 2MP9, on receiving a ‘Calling on/Low speed’ signal indication, proceeded at a speed not greater than 25 km/h, but was unable to stop the train, ‘within half the distance the line ahead was clear’, as prescribed by the operational rules. The driver was aware that the operational rules stipulate that ‘block ahead may be occupied or obstructed’, but did not expect that train 2MP1 was stationary on the track so close ahead. As he approached train 2MP1, some stumpy vegetation and a low fence initially obscured his view of the empty flat wagons at the rear of the train. When the driver finally saw the rear of train 2MP1, he immediately made an emergency brake application, but was unable to stop the train before it collided with 2MP1.

The ATSB noted that the pathing of a train by a network control officer (NCO) onto a line occupied by a preceding train, when an alternate route is available and not obstructed, presents an elevated level of risk. Similarly, well thought out and clear communications between an NCO and crew of an approaching train, as to the proximity of a train occupying the track ahead, can significantly enhance situational awareness and reduce operational risk.

What's been done as a result

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and SCT Logistics have implemented a range of proactive strategies for enhancing the safe operation of train movements when entering an occupied section of track under a ‘Proceed restricted authority’ (PRA). This includes the use of all available infrastructure to reduce risk, encouraging communications between train drivers and NCOs where clarification of operational conditions is necessary, and a review of the National Train Communications System (NTCS) for the Adelaide area.

Safety message

Train drivers should carefully consider their obligations when accepting a ‘Calling on/Low speed’ signal indication in relation to sighting constraints, train speed and occupation of the track ahead. In circumstances where sighting constraints may exist, drivers should consider requesting further information from the NCO before moving through the track ahead.

NCOs should carefully consider the pathing of trains under their control, and the communication of information that may mitigate collision risk when dispatching trains.

 

Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 2.03MB]
 
 
 

The occurrence

Context

Safety analysis

Findings

Safety issues and actions

Sources and submissions

General details
Date: 31 March 2015   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0740 CDT    
Location   (show map): Mile End   Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation  
State: South Australia    
Release date: 16 December 2015    
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Accident  
  Highest injury level: None  

Train 1 details

Train 1 details
Line operator Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)  
Train operator Aurizon  
Train registration 2MP1  
Type of operation Intermodal Freight  
Sector Freight  
Damage to train Substantial  
Departure point Melbourne, Vic  
Destination Perth, WA  

Train 2 details

Train 2 details
Line operator Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)  
Train operator SCT Logistics  
Train registration 2MP9  
Type of operation Intermodal Freight  
Sector Freight  
Damage to train Minor  
Departure point Melbourne, Vic  
Destination Perth, WA  
Last update 14 November 2018