An out of gauge wagon on a freight train caused minor damage to five station platforms while travelling from Brisbane to Port Kembla, a recent ATSB investigation has found.
On the morning of 15 June 2020, wagon RKOX4055Y was unloaded at a steel facility south of Brisbane. A forklift operator had trouble unloading one of the three stacks of welded beams from the wagon, with footage from security cameras within BlueScope Steel’s Coopers Plains facility showing a corner of the wagon lifting during the unloading process before dropping back down.
With unloading completed, wagon RKOX4055Y was then shunted and attached to another 52 wagons to form Pacific National train 2BW4 for the journey to Port Kembla. Prior to departing the facility, the train underwent a full train examination and a roll-by inspection with no abnormalities detected.
At around 0430 the following morning, station staff at Grafton found damage to the station’s platform. The damage was reported to the network controller who directed the crew of 2BW4 to inspect their train on arrival at Kempsey. Another roll-by inspection was performed, however no faults were identified and the train continued its journey.
Shortly before 1100, workers at Dungog station noticed a wagon on train 2BW4 contact the platform. Network control was again advised, and the train was directed to stop at Wallarobba. On inspection, the wagon body on RKOX4055Y was found to have dislodged and was resting on the bogie.
Wagon contact damage subsequently was also found on platforms at Coffs Harbour, Taree, and Wingham.
The investigation into the occurrence, conducted on behalf of the ATSB by NSW’s Office of Transport Safety Investigations, found that during the unloading of wagon RKOX4055Y, the wagon body was likely lifted off the centre pin and dislodged as the load became stuck. The forklift operators did not notice that the wagon body had lifted and continued unloading other wagons.
During the examination of the train the underframe was not inspected as required by Pacific National’s train examination procedure, the investigation notes. The likely dislodged wagon body was not identified and train 2BW4 departed with a rolling stock irregularity.
The investigation highlights that procedures and practices for loading and unloading rolling stock must ensure risks are identified, controlled and that the practices do not affect the safe operation of rolling stock.
Further, maintenance inspection regimes must be completed in accordance with engineering practices to identify conditions that might contribute to accidents.
Following the occurrence, both BlueScope Steel and Pacific National completed several safety actions directed at preventing a reoccurrence.
Read the report RO-2020-009: Wagon out of gauge on freight train 2BW4, Main North rail line, NSW, on 16 June 2020Last update 20 January 2021