More than a kilometre of powerlines were pulled down at Cooroy train station in 2018.
More than a kilometre of powerlines were pulled down at Cooroy train station in 2018.

System failure as train rips down lines at Coast station

More than a kilometre of high-voltage powerlines were dragged down at a Coast station when the container door on a freight train flew open, a new report has revealed.

An investigation led by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has shown the full extent of damage caused by the incident on August 18, 2018.

The Daily reported on the Aurizon-operated intermodal freight train accident which shut down the Cooroy station and suspended several services.

The report said the train, consisting of a single 2800 class diesel-electric locomotive and 32 flat wagons, was approaching the Sunshine Coast hinterland from Brisbane.

CCTV footage showed that as the train passed through Cooroy, the top flat rack's rear end wall was in an extended position, with overhead line equipment, including copper wires, entangled on the wagon and dragging along the station platform.

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No one was on the Cooroy station platform at the time, however a southbound passenger train was scheduled to arrive about 30 minutes later.

"The ATSB investigation found that securing of the collapsible end walls of the flat racks was not checked on arrival at the freight terminal (in Brisbane) or after they were loaded on the train," bureau transport safety director Dr Mike Walker said.

"In addition, there was not an effective system in place to ensure personnel required to check the securing of unusual loads, such as empty flat racks, had sufficient knowledge of their responsibilities, or ready access to relevant procedures, guidance and checklists."

Although the overhead line equipment was de-energised due to the tripping of a circuit breaker, it was not considered electrically safe until it had been isolated, tested and earthed.

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The bureau found that on multiple occasions after the incident, train crew accessed a 3m exclusion zone associated with the overhead line equipment, prior to the wires being isolated and earthed on-site.

It also found network control centre personnel did not advise train crew of the status of the overhead line equipment during the emergency response period, and the infrastructure operator, Queensland Rail, did not have an effective process in place to ensure that safety actions were co-ordinated and completed when multiple network control officers were involved in responding to an emergency.

"This occurrence has highlighted the importance of having checklists for rarely conducted tasks and emergency response tasks in the rail environment, and ensuring these checklists are readily available and used by operational personnel," Dr Walker said.

"This includes checklists for loading and securing personnel, rail traffic crew and network controllers."

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In response to the incident, Aurizon has updated its processes and checklists for the loading of flat racks, provided further training on flat rack securing requirements, and is undertaking a program to improve access to its safety management system, including relevant procedures and checklists.

Aurizon is also in the process of drafting procedures related to driver-only operations on its network.

Queensland Rail has mandated the use of a network control officer checklist for overhead line equipment emergencies and is reviewing related aspects of its emergency response procedures.

In addition, Queensland Rail has provided additional training to network control officers and train crew in relation to identifying objects close to overhead line equipment and applicable exclusion zones.


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