Guidance for extreme wet weather and flooding
Date issue released
Safety Issue Description

Neither ARTC or PN provided guidance for train crew to respond to extreme wet weather events or floodwater in the rail corridor. There was no guidance for when trains should stop or report if there was water on the track formation, covering the ballast, sleepers or the rail.

Response by Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC)

ARTC advised it has discussed with Pacific National (PN) investigating improvements to the process covering actions to be taken by train drivers and network controllers, when flood water is observed in the rail corridor, e.g. at what point should a train report, slow or stop. Once completed, ARTC will decide whether to roll out the revised process to all rail operators.

Response by Pacific National (PN)

PN advised that what constitutes a reportable condition in a particular scenario may depend on various factors, and that there may be some difficulty with prescribing what is appropriate in each and every adverse or abnormal scenario (wet weather being just one type of potential condition). Pacific National however supported discussion between Rail Operators and the Network Operator with regards to the development of guidance material to support the CAN network rule. Pacific National indicated that it would be appropriate for the Network Operator to lead such discussions given their overall responsibility for managing the movement of trains by multiple rail operators over the Network in accordance with safeworking procedures, including collating and disseminating timely information (via such methods as warnings and alerts regarding particular conditions) to users of the Network.

ATSB comment

The ATSB welcomes and acknowledges the intention by ARTC and PN to develop improvements to the process covering the actions to be taken by train drivers and network controllers. However, as proposed safety action and a timeline were not provided, the ATSB remains concerned with the resolution of this safety issue. Accordingly, the ATSB issues the following safety recommendations to support both ARTC's and PN’s proposed safety action.

Issue number
Issue Status
Open – Safety action pending
Transport Function
Rail: Infrastructure
Issue Owner
Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) and Pacific National (PN)
Mode of Transport
Safety recommendation
Action number
Pacific National (PN)
Action description

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Pacific National develops guidance for train crew to respond to and report extreme wet weather events or floodwater in the rail corridor.