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ATSB investigating several December derailments

Aurizon locomotive derailed in north west Queensland. Photo: Queensland Rail

The last month of 2015 was a busy one for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, with at least six derailment investigations launched into incidents around the nation.

A December 3 derailment near Walla, in WA, kicked off the busy month. According to the Bureau, loaded ore train M03544 derailed roughly 68km south of Port Hedland on BHP Billiton’s iron ore mainline just before 6am local time.

21 ore cars derailed, but there were no injuries to the train crew. However, around 200 metres of the West track was substantially damaged, according to the initial report.

Next, on December 4, SCT intermodal freight  train 5PM9 derailed near Rawlinna, also in WA, just before 3pm local time. 39 of the train’s 59 vehicles derailed, according to the Bureau, including the fuel wagon and the crew van located behind the lead locomotives.

“The train broke into two sections with the trailing vehicles behind the locomotives rolling onto their sides,” the ATSB explained. “Wagons within the rear section of derailed vehicles were severely damaged, with a fire starting in one refrigerated food van.”

About 600 metres of track was damaged. While the train’s drivers at the time of the incident were not injured, two relief drivers in the crew van were “badly shaken” when it rolled onto its side.

Next, at around 5.20pm local time on December 15, Rio Tinto train ND575 derailed on the East Main Tom Price line, with the front 58 of the train’s 236 empty wagons derailing, according to the Bureau. No injuries were reported.

Two days after that, on December 17, the lead car of an empty Sydney Trains passenger service derailed at Hornsby, just after 4pm, after reportedly passing a STOP signal without authority. No injuries were reported, and damage to the train was reported to be minor.

On December 27, an Aurizon-operated train derailed near Julia Creek in north-west Queensland, leaking up to 31,500 litres of sulfuric acid, according to Queensland Rail, which said the ATSB would conduct an investigation.

To round off the messy month on Australia’s railways, Pacific National grain train 9156 derailed near the Williams Street level crossing in Ouyen, Victoria, around 5.15pm on December 29.

According to the Bureau, twelve wagons derailed resulting in “significant damage to the wagons, the Williams Street level crossing and track either side of the crossing”. No injuries were reported.

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