Rail safety investigations & reports

Derailment of Freight Train 6SM9V, Alumatta, Vic 2004, 15 March 2004

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At 0335:08 on 15 March 2004, the trailing bogie of the second to last wagon oftrain 6SM9V, operated by Freight Australia, derailed as it departed the crossing loop at Alumatta. This train was a scheduled service from Sydney to Melbourne on the standard gauge network. There were no reported injuries as a result of this derailment either in the active or recovery stages, nor was there any adverse environmental impact.

6SM9V came to a stand at 0339:58, having travelled 5.579 kilometres from the point of departure at Alumatta. During this time four level crossings and one bridge were traversed and a maximum speed of 69 kph was attained. For 4.795 kilometres of this distance this train was travelling in a derailed state thereby inflicting damage to these installations, track, associated infrastructure and the two trailing wagons. At the final level crossing the derailed bogie became dislodged, causing the last wagon to lift, separate from the train and roll over to the eastern side of the track. The consequential loss of air and the actions of the driver brought the train to a stop about 895 metres beyond this level crossing. The train crew then used the local UHF radio to warn any broad gauge trains that may have been in the vicinity that train line air had been lost and the train may be foul.

Initially, the driver suspected a ruptured air hose and left the cab to find the fault and repair it. Advice of this occurrence and proposed actions were forwarded to the ARTC train controller at 0342:10. At 0353:10 the driver advised the ARTC train controller that he had reached the rear of the train and that the second last wagon was derailed and the last wagon was not in sight. At 0353:40 the ARTC train controller rang the Central train controller and instructed that no broad gauge trains be allowed into the vicinity.

This accident occurred on a section of the corridor where standard and broad gauge tracks parallel each other only metres apart. Both of these tracks are operated independently, having separate train control centres and differing safeworking systems with little readily identifiable transparency between them. The investigation has determined that the time taken to notify the Central train control centre was not in accordance with the existing safety management system requirements.

The investigation has determined that the probable cause of this derailment was the geometry of the track combined with the excessive speed of the rear of train 6SM9V as it exited the crossing loop. This led the left wheel of the third axle of the second last wagon to climb the eastern stock rail at the toe of the point blade of the cripple siding. It is probable though that neither of these two factors was, in itself, sufficient to cause the derailment.

Safety actions recommended as a result of this investigation are aimed at revising track standards and maintenance procedures, ensuring the rear of trains do not exceed speeds of curves or turnouts and improving communications between trains on what are essentially two separate rail corridors in one.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 3.26MB]
General details
Date: 15 March 2004   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 335    
Location: Alumatta    
State: Victoria    
Release date: 18 August 2005   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  
Last update 29 May 2014