Train ig­nored stop com­mand

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWSFRONT - HE­LEN KEMP­TON

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.

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