When the AK Car was operating in Manual mode, the methods used to identify the location of a defect, and assist track staff to locate the defect could be ineffective in certain scenarios. At the derailment location, there was a consistent offset of about 58 m between the recorded location of the wide-gauge defect and its actual location due to the presence of a ‘long kilometre’.
The ATSB is satisfied that the action taken by ARTC to implement a more effective system for identfiying defect location has reduced the risk associated with this safety issue.
The track maintenance teams affected by the issues at Newport have been briefed on the technical aspects of the AK Car including how it measures and reports locations in and around Newport. This included an explanation of the manual mode and non-GPS recording and how that relates to the actual locations on the ground.
In addition, the Track Recording Team are attending toolbox talks throughout the network to alert key personnel (Team Managers, Track Inspectors and Work Group Leaders) of the limitations of the AK Car location when recording long and short kilometres. An extract from the presentation presented at the toolbox talks is displayed in the AK Car.
ARTC also advised that a new GPS location system is being developed for the AK Car that will handle difficult areas such as long and short kilometres and changes in the kilometre count direction. ARTC advised that testing was underway and that the new system will be rolled out in early to mid-2016.
ATSB is satisfied that effective implementation of these safety actions will address the safety issue.
ARTC has advised that the GPS upgrade for the AK Cars has been undertaken and is providing more accurate location data. GPS coordinates from the upgraded system are provided for all track geometry exceedances.
Electronic files for the defect location are automatically generated and can be opened using Google Earth via a smart phone or tablet in the field. ARTC advised that this technology has been found to be extremely accurate.