A preliminary report has been released from an ongoing transport safety investigation into the exceedance of a temporary speed restriction by a XPT passenger train in Melbourne.

On the morning of 24 May 2022, a Sydney to Melbourne XPT service travelled over the Moonee Ponds Creek Bridge, in Melbourne’s inner-north, at about 100 km/h.

This was above a 40 km/h temporary speed restriction, placed on the 400 m section, after rough track was reported there the night before.

An investigation is being conducted by the Office of Chief Investigator, Transport Safety, which investigates rail occurrences in Victoria on behalf of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

The preliminary report details factual information from the early evidence collection phase of the investigation.

“Travelling south towards Southern Cross Station, the standard gauge and broad gauge tracks run parallel up until Jacana,” Chief Investigator, Transport Safety Mark Smallwood explained.

“However, at Jacana, the standard gauge track, used by interstate trains, diverges from the more direct (16 km) broad gauge route, and takes a longer 27 km route to Southern Cross. To accommodate this longer route, the standard gauge track included a step change in its kilometrage at this point, from 16 km back up to 27 km.”

This effectively meant that trains on the standard gauge line went through two sets of kilometrage markers from 27 km to 16 km, on their way into Melbourne.

“The driver in this incident was told of a speed restriction between 24.4 km and 24.0 km,” Mr Smallwood said.

The driver slowed to below 40 km/h at the first 24.4 km–24.0 km section encountered, but not the second, where the restriction was actually in place.

The investigation will include further review of the track condition that led to the temporary speed restriction, the operation of the train, and the processes and risk controls associated with the establishment of a temporary speed restriction and its communication to drivers.

A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation.

“However, should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken,” Mr Smallwood said.

Read the preliminary report: RO-2022-005 Exceedance of temporary speed restriction by XPT train ST21 at Moreland, Victoria, on 24 May 2022

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