Rail safety investigations & reports

Collision between out of gauge freight train 3WB3 and passenger train C181, Loftus, New South Wales, on 21 July 2020

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


Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 1.03MB]

What happened

On 21 July 2020, Pacific National freight train 3WB3 was travelling from Port Kembla, New South Wales to Brisbane, Queensland. The train consisted of three locomotives and 34 wagons.

At 1912, train 3WB3 stopped and remained stationary at a signal north of Loftus station. Passenger train C181 was travelling in the opposite direction on the adjacent line towards Kiama and began to pass the stationary freight train at 1918. On passing the third locomotive (NR68), the lead carriage of C181 struck an open air filter hatch on NR68. The driver of C181 heard a loud noise and as a result stopped the train at Loftus station.

Train 3WB3 then departed, with its crew unaware of the collision between the two trains before being directed to stop shortly afterwards. There were no injuries as a result of the collision but the guard’s windscreen and passenger doors on the lead carriage of C181 were damaged. One passenger door was also partially dislodged and pulled outwards from the carriage.

What the ATSB found

Passenger train C181 struck an out of gauge air filter hatch on NR68 that was likely not properly secured during recent maintenance. The checks associated with the maintenance inspections did not require a physical check that the air filter hatch was secured correctly. There were also no other mechanisms to prevent the hatch from opening if the hatch was not properly secured.

What has been done as a result

A modification to fit a secondary latch to the air filter hatches on NR locomotives was released for implementation. The intent of this modification was to prevent hatches on NR locomotives from opening and exceeding the rolling stock outline (out of gauge) if the hatch was incorrectly secured or the lock was to fail.

Safety message

Rail transport operators should review their rolling stock to ensure that appropriate risk controls are in place to prevent hatches from opening while in service and becoming out of gauge.

Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 1.03MB]

The investigation

General details
Date: 21 July 2020   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 19:21 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Loftus   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: New South Wales    
Release date: 20 July 2021   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Train 1 details

Train 1 details
Line operator Sydney Trains  
Train operator Pacific National  
Train registration 3WB3  
Type of operation Multi Modal Freight  
Sector Freight  
Damage to train Minor  
Departure point Port Kembla, New South Wales  
Destination Brisbane, Queensland  

Train 2 details

Train 2 details
Line operator Sydney Trains  
Train operator NSW Trains  
Train registration C181  
Type of operation Passenger  
Sector Passenger - regional  
Damage to train Minor  
Departure point Sydney Central, New South Wales  
Destination Kiama, New South Wales  
Last update 20 July 2021