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What happened

On 29 May 2015, an empty VLocity type passenger train was being transferred from Waurn Ponds to Geelong, passing through Marshall and South Geelong stations enroute and without stops. The empty-cars train was following a Melbourne-bound service.

When the empty-cars approached Marshall, the Distant signal for this location was displaying Caution. This indicated that at least one of the Home signals in advance was at Stop. The train’s speed was reduced in response to this indication, but was subsequently increased to above 100 km/h as the train continued towards Marshall Railway Station.

Nearing Marshall station platform, the driver observed the next Home signal at Stop and applied the train’s brakes. However, the train could not be stopped before it passed this signal and the next, which were both at Stop.

Marshalltown Road level crossing intersects with the railway about 140 m beyond Marshall Station and the empty cars entered the crossing before the warning devices activated.

There was no collision at the crossing, no injuries, and no damage to any infrastructure as a consequence of this incident.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the driver of the empty-cars did not respond appropriately to the two-position signal indications through the Marshall location, including the Caution indication on the Distant signal. The speed of the train was too high as it approached Marshall station and as a result the train could not be stopped in response to observing the next signal at Stop.

The driver had recently qualified to drive passenger services and this was his first shift driving without supervision. It was found that the training had not adequately prepared the driver for the sequence of two-position signals at this location. The predominant signalling on the Melbourne-Geelong corridor is three-position.

The ATSB also found that the rule that described the required driver response to a Distant signal at Caution in a two-position signalling system did not fully reflect the design principles for this type of signalling configuration.

Since the re-establishment of Marshall station, rail passenger traffic through Marshall had increased tenfold, and there was scope to enhance the signalling configuration.

What's been done as a result

Immediate actions by V/Line included imposing temporary speed restrictions for this location and retraining the driver in two-position signalling. V/Line also developed a simulator session to improve driver training in two-position signalling.

V/Line advised that funding has been secured for the development of a business case and feasibility study for a track and signalling upgrade of the South Geelong – Waurn Ponds section.

ATSB has recommended that V/Line amends the rule for the required driver response to a Distant signal at Caution.

Safety message

Operating rules and Driver training should align with the underlying principles of a network’s signalling infrastructure.

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The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety issues and actions

Sources and submissions


Safety issues

RO-2015-009-SI-01 - RO-2015-009-SI-02 -  

Driver training

The training and assessment of the driver did not ensure that he had an adequate understanding of the two-position signalling through Marshall. 

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2015-009-SI-01
Who it affects:Drivers operating on the V/Line network
Status:Adequately addressed


Network rule governing Distant signals

The rule describing the required driver response to a Distant signal at Caution in a two-position signalling system did not fully reflect the signalling system design principles. 

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2015-009-SI-02
Who it affects:Drivers operating on rail networks using this rule
Status:Not addressed

General details
Date: 29 May 2015 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1932 EST  
Location   (show map):Marshall (Geelong) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: SPAD (signal passed at danger) 
Release date: 12 December 2016  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Train details
Line operator: V/Line 
Train operator: V/Line 
Train registration: VL1141 
Type of operation: Empty Cars 
Sector: Other 
Damage to train: Nil 
Departure point:Waurn Ponds, Vic
Destination:Geelong, Vic
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Last update 14 November 2018