Train ignored stop command
A RUNAWAY driverless freight train that was derailed in Devonport’s busy CBD — injuring two people — did not respond to emergency stop commands, an investigation has found.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s preliminary report into the dramatic incident on September 21, says the train travelled for about 21km before it was routed into a dead-end siding and intentionally shunted off the tracks.
“The train collided with the end of a dead-end siding, destroyed a fence line and travelled in a derailed state for about 60m into a public area,” the ATSB report said.
Police on the scene to warn traffic and pedestrians of the train’s approach said it was travelling at about 50km/h when it was forced to a stop.
It derailed just short of the Harbour Master Cafe where staff and customers told the
Mercury of the loud rumbling noise before the area was covered in clouds of cement dust.
The remote-controlled train weighed about 1132 tonnes and was a regular TasRail bulk cement service that operated between Railton and Devonport. TasRail says it has suspended the operation of re- mote technology for the loading and unloading of trains until further notice and the locomotive involved remains quarantined.
At 8.40am on the morning of the derailment, the train was being remotely controlled to align its wagons with cement loading chutes at Railton.
The train then became unresponsive to the driver’s remote commands.
The bureau said the driver tried multiple times to reset the remote control equipment but the locomotive continued to be unresponsive.
“The driver decided to walk to the lead locomotive TR11 to undertake a cold restart of the remote control system at the receiver located on the rear of the locomotive,” the report says.
“Before he started to walk, the train slowly began rolling away towards Devonport.”
The report said the driver tried to activate the emergency stop features of the remote system by removing power to the transmitter.
But the train again failed to respond and gradually gained speed as it rolled away.
At 8.48am, the driver placed an emergency phone call to TasRail Train Control and the train controller contacted emergency services.
Police were given information on the train’s progress and used this to stop vehicles and pedestrian traffic across the railway corridor. The ATSB investigation is continuing.