Rail safety investigations & reports

Collision with loading rake and derailment of empty ore train R1006, Andoom (near Weipa), Queensland, on 22 September 2019

Investigation number:
RO-2019-017
Status: Active
Investigation in progress

Preliminary Report

Preliminary report published 21 November 2019

What happened

On 22 September 2019, an empty bauxite train was travelling the 19.5-km route between Lorim Point and Andoom, near Weipa, Queensland. At the 17.5 km mark, travelling at 64 km/h, the driver made a service brake application to slow the train for the 25-km/h turnout on the approach to Andoom, however, the brake application did not slow the train. In response, the driver released the brake, applied the dynamic brake on the locomotive, and again attempted to apply a service brake application.

Recognising the train was not slowing enough for the turnout, the driver made an emergency brake application, which was not effective. At 59 km/h, the driver applied the locomotive independent brake as a means to slow the train. As the independent brake only applies on the locomotive, there was only a slight decrease in train speed.

The train passed through the turnout at 54 km/h. At the time, a rake of wagons was being loaded at the automated loading point at Andoom, 635 m from the turnout. The driver was aware that a train collision was imminent but was unable to prevent it. During this period, the driver contacted the control communication centre by radio and advised them of the circumstances.

At 37 km/h, the train collided with the partially loaded rake of wagons. The locomotive of the moving train, and four empty wagons at the rear of the partially loaded rake, derailed on impact. The collision resulted in the modular driver operating cab separating from the main structure of the locomotive, coming to rest on the ground (Figure 1 and Figure 2). The cab sustained substantial damage. The driver was initially trapped inside the cab but sustained only minor injuries.

Figure 1: Train collision at Andoom loading point

Figure 1: Train collision at Andoom loading point. Source Rio Tinto.

Locomotive R1006 with its detached and damaged modular operating cab resting inverted to the right of the locomotive. Empty wagons shown are from the rake of wagons the train collided with.
Source Rio Tinto.

Figure 2: Damaged modular operating cab of locomotive R1006

Figure 2: Damaged modular operating cab of locomotive R1006. Source Rio Tinto.

Detached and damaged modular operating cab from locomotive R1006.
Source: Rio Tinto.

Further investigation

To date, the ATSB has:

  • interviewed the train driver and witnesses
  • conducted preliminary analysis of data from the locomotive’s event recorder
  • obtained the securing components of the modular operating cab.

The ATSB investigation is continuing and will examine:

  • analysis and testing the crashworthiness of the modular operating cab
  • factors associated with the braking on the train
  • further analysis of the event recorder
  • policies, procedures and guidelines relating to Rio Tinto rail operations at Weipa.

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The information contained in this preliminary report is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and is derived from the initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that new evidence will become available as the investigation progresses that will enhance the ATSB's understanding of the accident as outlined in this preliminary report. As such, no analysis or findings are included.

General details
Date: 22 September 2019   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 0930 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Andoom (near Weipa)   Investigation phase: Evidence collection  
State: Queensland    
Release date: 21 November 2019   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Preliminary   Highest injury level: Minor  

Train details

Train details
Line operator Rio Tinto  
Train operator Rio Tinto  
Train registration Locomotive R1006  
Type of operation Bulk minerals  
Sector Freight  
Damage to train Substantial  
Departure point Lorim Point, Queensland  
Destination Andoom, Queensland  
Last update 21 November 2019