Final report


What happened

On 11 June 2015, four Rhomberg Rail Australia track machines were travelling in convoy on the Australian Rail Track Corporation Hunter Valley (NSW) corridor between Maitland and Scone. The vehicles travelled coupled in two pairs as train 5M71N.

To allow a passenger train to pass en route, 5M71N was required to leave the Down main line and enter a siding at Singleton. After arriving at Singleton, the Traffic Officer travelling with 5M71N accessed a local control panel to operate a crossover from the down main line to the siding. The points at each end of the crossover appeared to operate but the indication light on the panel did not illuminate to confirm detection of the points in the required position. The Traffic Officer visually inspected the position of the points from a location adjacent the control panel.

As the points appeared to be set, the Traffic Officer concluded there was likely a fault with the indicator light. The Traffic Officer contacted the Australian Rail Track Corporation Network Control Officer for authority to enter the siding but did not mention that the indication lamp had not illuminated.

At about 0823, as the convoy entered the turnout from the main line, the operator on the lead vehicle saw that the swing-nose crossing in the turnout ahead was not in the correct position. The vehicles were travelling at about 15 km/h and the operator was unable to stop before passing over the crossing - derailing the lead vehicle, M395, and the leading axle of the trailing vehicle, M2256. There were no injuries, but the derailed vehicles obstructed the Down main line.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the machine driving the swing-nose crossing on the Down main line turnout had not operated in conjunction with the companion point machines of the crossover. An internal electrical fault likely resulted in the machine failing to move to the required position. As designed, the E Frame local control panel reverse lamp did not illuminate to confirm the correct operation of the crossover.

The Traffic Officer did not notice the swing-nose point machine failed to operate. As the route appeared to be set correctly, the Traffic Officer concluded that the reverse indication lamp on the E Frame local control panel was faulty. The Traffic Officer did not report the lack of a reverse indication to the NCO and a systematic examination of the crossover was not undertaken before advancing the track machines.

The ATSB also found the operating method and indications displayed were unique for both the E Frame field equipment and the control centre. The Australian Rail Track Corporation procedures did not effectively explain the current operational arrangements for this equipment.

What's been done as a result

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) issued an Incident Notice, instructing the Network Control Officers not to authorise passing signals at stop for the turnout route if the REV indication or panel light did not display. Additionally, new Network Information Books and revised guidance documentation for the operation of the E Frame panel were developed.

Rhomberg Rail Australia implemented actions to ensure track personnel are familiar with the operation of the E Frame and the implementation of the ARTC Network Rules.

Safety message

Rail safety workers must fully implement and adhere to the applicable network operational procedures in response to any abnormality observed when operating rail infrastructure. Rail infrastructure managers must ensure that operating procedures and instructions for track equipment are maintained and fully representative of the equipment installed.

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety issues and actions

Sources and submissions