A rail maintenance contractor has amended its processes for on-tracking road-rail vehicles after two RRVs travelled about three kilometres without track protection, an Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation report notes.

On 10 June 2021, two RRVs operated by SPENO Rail Maintenance Australia on-tracked at the Binney Road level crossing at Crystal Brook, South Australia, to undertake ultrasonic rail flaw detection.

Prior to on-tracking, the RRV crew’s track worker level 2 – responsible for track protection – had contacted the network controller and requested protection limits from Signal 24 Crystal Brook.

While Binney Road level crossing is in the town of Crystal Brook, the signal the track worker was intending to reference was actually Signal 24 Rocky River on the track operator’s network plan. Signal 24 Crystal Brook is about 3 kilometres further down the line.

After clarifying with the track worker that the RRVs intended to travel down the Westbound Mainline, the network controller applied blocking facilities at Signal 24D Crystal Brook.

“This request and confirmation for protection limits from Signal 24D Crystal Brook instead of Signal 24 Rocky River meant the two RRVs on-tracked in an area without protection from other rail traffic,” ATSB Director Transport Safety Dr Stuart Godley said.

“They subsequently travelled for about three kilometres before reaching a set of points prior to the section of track where protection had been applied.”

The network controller recognised the safeworking breach when the RRV’s track worker requested the points be set for the Westbound Mainline so they could enter the intended route to continue ultrasonic testing.

“When the protection was arranged, there was no confirmation between the track worker and the network controller of specifically where the RRVs were going to be put on-track,” Dr Godley explained.

This incident highlights the importance of identifying the location that travel or work on track will commence.

“Competent workers should provide all the information required for network controllers to identify and confirm that protection limits adequately cover the intended work site,” Dr Godley said.

“Confirmation of location is especially important for providing blocking protection for RRV movements.”

Read the report: RO-2021-006 Safeworking breach of Road-Rail Vehicles Crystal Brook, South Australia, 10 June 2021

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