Rail safety investigations & reports

Safeworking irregularity involving passenger train 1898, near Thorneside, Queensland, on 7 March 2020

Investigation number:
Status: Active
Investigation in progress
Phase: Final report: Internal review Read more information on this investigation phase


The ATSB is investigating a safeworking irregularity involving a Queensland Rail suburban passenger train near Thorneside, Queensland, on 7 March 2020.

Suburban passenger train 1898 was being operated from Shorncliffe to Cleveland on the Cleveland line. Track maintenance work was being conducted, and a track occupancy authority (TOA) had been issued to protect the section of track between Thorneside and Birkdale while work was undertaken. However, the TOA was suspended to allow for train 1898 to traverse the section.

Departing Thorneside, the train reached a recorded speed of 88 km/h when, at about 0108, the train driver noticed an excavator on the track ahead. The train driver applied full brakes with about 100 m separating the train and the excavator. At about the same time, the operator of the excavator saw the train approaching and attempted to vacate the track by rotating the excavator's boom and moving the excavator away from the track.

The front-of-train camera showed the excavator sliding down the shoulder of the ballast as the train passed. The rail operator advised that the recorded train speed at that point was about 60 km/h.

The ATSB has obtained relevant operational records and interviewed some directly involved rail workers. The investigation is continuing and will:

  • conduct futher interviews
  • obtain and analyse additional track protection records
  • obtain and analyse recorded data and video.

Should any safety critical information be discovered at any time during the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify operators and regulators so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken.

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

General details
Date: 07 March 2020   Investigation status: Active  
Time: 0108 AEST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Thorneside   Investigation phase: Final report: Internal review  
State: Queensland    
  Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Pending   Highest injury level: None  
Anticipated completion: 3rd Quarter 2022    

Train details

Train details
Line operator Queensland Rail  
Train operator Queensland Rail  
Train registration 1898  
Type of operation Suburban Passenger  
Sector Passenger - metropolitan  
Damage to train Nil  
Departure point Shorncliffe, Queensland  
Destination Cleveland, Queensland  
Last update 27 May 2022