Rail safety investigations & reports

Derailment of freight train WG713 at Denman, NSW, on 19 January 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase

Final Report

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What happened

On 19 January 2016, at approximately 0400 Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT), an empty Pacific National coal train derailed in a section between the Ogilvie and Rosemount Road level crossings at Denman, New South Wales. The lead bogie of the 64th wagon behind the locomotives operated in a derailed state for a period of time before re-railing at the Rosemount Road level crossing.

The train crew were unaware of the incident until they were notified by the Australian Rail Track Corporation’s (ARTC) network controller, after a signal electrician advised of track damage at that location. The train stopped at Bylong Loop approximately 71 km away from the derailment site.

What the ATSB found

The derailment occurred near a long twist track defect in an area with other known track geometry defects that had been identified a week before. The defective area was managed with Temporary Speed Restrictions (TSRs) until it could be repaired. It was found that the area deteriorated at a faster rate than anticipated, leading to the derailment. The known long twist defect was measured after the derailment and found to be out of ARTC’s acceptable tolerance limits within its Civil Code of Practice (COP).

The ATSB found the track was damaged between the point of derailment up to the Rosemount Rd level crossing. The track damage and marks exhibited on the steel road plate of the level crossing were consistent with that of a train derailing and re-railing.

What has been done as a result

Since the incident, ARTC has:

  • Instigated a recurring weekly “Unscheduled Asset Examination” to inspect the track formation at the incident location until permanent repairs could be completed.
  • Repaired and reconditioned the formation in the area in July 2017.
  • Reviewed its track/civil engineering standards and guidance documentation.

Safety message

Maintenance inspection and categorisation of defects must take into account that defects may deteriorate faster than expected. Factors that can contribute to rapid deterioration should be considered when developing maintenance responses.

Download final report
[Download  PDF: 5.9MB]

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety issues and actions

Sources and submissions

Safety Issues

Go to RO-2016-001-SI-01 - Go to RO-2016-001-SI-02 - Go to RO-2016-001-SI-03 -

Shear key installation

The shear key was not installed in accordance with the geotechnical engineer’s specification with respect to the following:

a) It did not include a cross-drain.

b) Its width was less than the specified width.

Safety issue details
Issue number: RO-2016-001-SI-01
Who it affects: Rail Infrastructure Managers (RIMs)
Status: Adequately addressed

Surface drainage in areas with degraded formations

The location did not have adequate surface drainage which likely contributed to formation degradation over time.

Safety issue details
Issue number: RO-2016-001-SI-02
Who it affects: Rail Infrastructure Managers (RIMs)
Status: Adequately addressed

Maintenance response to recurring track defects in areas with a degraded formation

A more stringent maintenance response than that for an isolated track geometry defect was not considered or implemented in accordance with ARTC’s COP. A more stringent maintenance response should have been considered given the degraded formation and the track’s rapid deterioration between 12-14 January 2016, two days prior to the derailment

Safety issue details
Issue number: RO-2016-001-SI-03
Who it affects: Rail Infrastructure Managers (RIMs)
Status: Adequately addressed
General details
Date: 19 January 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0400 AEDT   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Denman   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: New South Wales    
Release date: 25 March 2019   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Train details

Train details
Line operator Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)  
Train operator Pacific National  
Train registration WG713  
Type of operation Bulk coal freight  
Sector Freight  
Damage to train Minor  
Departure point Kooragang Coal Terminal, Newcastle, NSW  
Destination Wilpinjong Mine, NSW  
Last update 03 April 2020