Rail safety investigations & reports

Safeworking irregularity near Lidcombe, NSW, on 3 September 2018

Investigation number:
RO-2018-013
Status: Discontinued

Discontinuation notice

Discontinuation notice

Section 21 (2) of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (TSI Act) empowers the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) to discontinue an investigation into a transport safety matter at any time. Section 21 (3) of the TSI Act requires the ATSB to publish a statement setting out the reasons for discontinuing an investigation.

On 6 September 2018, the ATSB commenced an investigation into a safeworking irregularity between a suburban passenger train (45-E) and three rail track workers on the Up Suburban Line on 3 September 2018, about 100–200 m from Flemington Station in Sydney, New South Wales.

A protection officer and work group of three arrived at Flemington to place temporary speed restriction warning boards beside the Up Suburban Line on 3 September 2018, in conjunction with a track possession between Homebush and Redfern. Heavy rain prevented the group from immediately accessing the track.

After 25 minutes, the protection officer was contacted by the possession protection officer and advised that the track possession between Homebush and Redfern had been granted. Without conducting a safety assessment or seeking permission from the Flemington area controller, the protection officer and work group entered the rail corridor and moved along the track, towards the location where they intended to place the warning boards.  

As Sydney Trains’ Leppington to Circular Quay suburban passenger service 45-E approached Flemington station on the Up Suburban Line at 70 km/h, the train driver saw the three workers on the track. The train driver sounded the horn and applied brake, and the workers moved across to the adjacent Down Suburban Line. The incident was subsequently reported by the train driver as a ’near miss‘.

On questioning the possession protection officer about the presence of a train within the track possession area, the protection officer was reminded that the section where the work group intended to place warning boards was not within the track possession between Homebush and Redfern.

The ATSB obtained the Sydney Trains workplace investigation report and initial incident reports, audio communication between the protection officer and the area controller Flemington, CCTV camera footage from Flemington station, and interviewed the protection officer.

Based on its review of this information, the ATSB concluded that it was unlikely that further investigation of this specific occurrence would identify any systemic safety issues. Consequently, the ATSB has discontinued this investigation.

Safe work on track is one of the ATSB’s SafetyWatch items. The ATSB is aware that this occurrence has similarities with a number of other occurrences in recent years in the Sydney region, and the ATSB is currently conducting other investigations of safe work occurrences. The ATSB is actively monitoring these types of occurrences.

General details
Date: 03 September 2018   Investigation status: Discontinued  
Time: 1130 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Lidcombe    
State: New South Wales    
Release date: 18 April 2019   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Discontinued   Highest injury level: None  

Train details

Train details
Line operator Sydney Trains  
Train operator Sydney Trains  
Train registration 45-E  
Type of operation Passenger service  
Sector Passenger - metropolitan  
Damage to train Nil  
Departure point Leppington, NSW  
Destination Circular Quay, Sydney, NSW  
Last update 18 April 2019