Rail safety investigations & reports

Derailment of coal train, 8 km west of Oakey, Queensland, on 21 July 2017

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase

Final Report

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What happened

On 21 July 2017, a loaded coal train derailed at a level crossing on the Western Line between Oakey and Jondaryan, Queensland. The hauling locomotives and 18 wagons came off the track, destroying about 300 m of rail infrastructure.

It is very likely that the underframe of a low-clearance heavy road vehicle collided with the railway infrastructure as it traversed the level crossing soon before the coal train reached the crossing. The impact with railway infrastructure resulted in the lateral displacement of rail lines, which consequently derailed the coal train.

What the ATSB found

The rail infrastructure manager’s monitoring and inspection process at the Dunkeld Access Road level crossing did not ensure the approach roads within the rail corridor and the crossing surface were maintained within safe operating limits throughout its lifecycle. As a result, the elevated gravel-based level crossing road and crossing surface deteriorated to a point where the underframe of a low-clearance heavy road vehicle collided with the exposed head of each rail as it traversed the crossing.

The driver of the heavy road vehicle did not report the collision with rail infrastructure to the asset owner (Queensland Rail) or the local police in accordance with the Queensland Government road transport guidelines. Therefore, the relevant authorities were not in a position to contact the driver of the train before reaching the level crossing.

At the time of the derailment, there was no interface agreement between the rail infrastructure manager and a responsible road authority.

What's been done as a result?

Following the derailment, Queensland Rail (QR) repaired the level crossing and installed a sealed asphalt surface on both sides of the crossing to mitigate the risk of erosion and deterioration. QR also advised that it had taken or was undertaking a series of actions to improve its inspection processes of level crossings to ensure that more focus is placed on inspecting the condition of the approach roads at the crossings. In addition, QR is reviewing its safety standards and relevant documentation in relation to identified defects at level crossings and how the defects are recorded and managed.

QR also advised it had a state-wide audit program in place to assess the current safety status of all private crossings, and upgrade them to the QR standard and/or seek to enter interface agreements.

Safety message

Rail infrastructure managers, who are responsible for the management of the rail corridor, need to ensure that approach roads and the crossing surface at level crossings are subject to regular and effective inspection and monitoring processes. This is particularly relevant for level crossings with gravel-based road surfaces and inclined approach roads.

If rail infrastructure is damaged due to a road accident, it is vitally important that the driver responsible report the matter to the local police or the asset owner as soon as possible.

Download final report
[Download  PDF: 1.78MB]

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety issues and actions

Sources and submissions

Safety Issue

Go to RO-2017-007-SI-01 -

QR’s track monitoring and inspection processes

Queensland Rail’s track monitoring and inspection processes were not effective in identifying significant deterioration in the condition of level crossing ID 2309 and its approach roads to ensure the safe operating limits of the level crossing throughout its lifecycle.

Safety issue details
Issue number: RO-2017-007-SI-01
Who it affects: Rail Infrastructure Managers, Rail Operators and Road Authorities/Managers
Status: Adequately addressed
General details
Date: 21 July 2017   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1558 EST   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 9 km north-west of Oakey   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: Queensland    
Release date: 26 June 2019   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Train details

Train details
Line operator Queensland Rail  
Train operator Aurizon  
Train registration 9869  
Type of operation Bulk coal  
Sector Freight  
Damage to train Substantial  
Departure point Acland coal siding near Jondaryan, Qld  
Destination Port of Brisbane, Qld  
Last update 15 August 2019