Rail safety investigations & reports

Derailment of freight train 3PS6 Yunta, SA on 17 January 2013

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed

Final report

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What happened

At about 1453 CDT on Thursday 17 January 2013, train 3PS6 derailed on the main line at the north eastern end of the Yunta passing loop, after a track buckle formed under the train. No injuries resulted from the incident; however, a number of wagons were derailed and approximately one and a half kilometres of track was damaged. Two months prior to the derailment new rail had been placed on both legs of the track.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB’s investigation found that the buckle that caused the derailment was the result of excessive compressive stresses in the newly installed rail and a lack of lateral track stability through the derailment site. No records were available to demonstrate that the new rail had been destressed at the derailment location, and a Track Stability Management Plan did not exist for the section of track through the derailment site.

It was evident that the works provider’s quality assurance process and documentation was inadequate in relation to the re-railing works through Yunta, especially in the area where train 3PS6 subsequently derailed. In addition, project oversight was inadequate, given that both the infrastructure owner and works contractor had signed off on practical completion of the track work, even though the quality documentation was incomplete and, in some cases, suggested that work had not be undertaken.

What's been done as a result

Transfield Services have revised their quality system for re-railing projects to include a Rail Adjustment Plan which will list all required stressing required for the project. They have also introduced or updated the De-stress Pull Form, In Process Checklist, and Inspection and Test Plan/Checklist to improve the robustness of their quality system.

ARTC has developed a Track Stability Plan for the section of track where the derailment occurred and revised the plans for the rest of its network. These plans will be reviewed annually and include inputs from regular rail stress tests. The Track Stability of Concrete Sleepered Track procedure will also be reviewed annually and changes are being considered for the rail stressing standards and procedures. ARTC have updated their project management procedures and are undertaking a review of procedures relating to scopes of work.

Safety message

To ensure the safety of rail operations during and after capital upgrade projects, project quality assurance processes and documentation should be fully developed and utilised. Oversight by clients should be robust and the completion of critical activities verified. Documents addressing the ongoing management of track infrastructure should be developed, used, and maintained in accordance with mandated standards.

Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 2.01MB]

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety issues and actions

Sources and submissions

Safety Issue

Go to RO-2013-002-SI-02 -

Track Stability Maintenance Plan

There was no Track Stability Management Plan in place for the section of track where the buckle developed – as was required by the ARTC’s CoP.

Safety issue details
Issue number: RO-2013-002-SI-02
Who it affects: All track maintainers
Status: Adequately addressed
General details
Date: 17 January 2013   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1453 CDT   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Yunta    
State: South Australia    
Release date: 26 May 2015   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Train details

Train details
Train registration 3PS6  
Type of operation Freight  
Damage to train Minor  
Departure point Perth, WA  
Destination Sydney, NSW  
Last update 03 April 2020