Rail safety investigations & reports

Derailment of train 3DM4 near Manton Dam NT

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At about 05421 on Tuesday 22 April 2008, empty southbound manganese ore train 3DM4 derailed four wagons approximately 58 km south of Darwin near Manton Dam in the Northern Territory (NT).

There were no injuries as a result of the derailment but there was minor damage to the track and rolling stock.

The investigation found that the draft key2 on the leading end of the 31st wagon had dislodged from the coupler shank, which allowed the coupler to withdraw and fall onto the track. As a result of this the train was separated into two portions; 30 wagons that were still coupled to the locomotives and the 14 following wagons which were detached. The detached portion of the train then almost certainly passed over the dislodged coupler that was lying on the tracks leading to the derailment of four wagons.


  1. The 24-hour clock is used in this report to describe the local time of day, Central Standard Time (CST).
  2. Also known as 'Murray Key', the draft key is a flat steel bar that passes through the underframe, yoke and coupler. Its primary function is to secure the yoke and coupler as a unit within the underframe.


Rail safety recommendation


Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 490KB]
General details
Date: 22 April 2008   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0542 CST   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location: near Manton Dam    
State: Northern Territory    
Release date: 05 March 2009   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Train details

Train details
Train registration Train 3DM4  
Type of operation Ore Train  
Damage to train Minor  
Departure point Berrimah  
Departure time 0447  
Destination Muckaty  
Last update 03 April 2020