The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has offered some early insights into an investigation it will soon release into a derailment near Oakey, Queensland, in July last year.
A coal-loaded train was travelling to the Port of Brisbane from the Acland coal siding near Jondaryan on July 21, 2017. On approaching a level crossing approximately 9 kilometres north-west of Oakey, the train driver observed a “kink” in both the rails and applied a full service brake application to stop the train.
As the train passed through the level crossing, the crew reportedly felt the locomotive shudder, and witnessed several wagons derail as the train slowed to a stop. 18 wagons and both locomotives were derailed, and 300 metres of track infrastructure was severely damaged in the incident.
On-site examination of the track identified impact marks to the head of both rails coinciding with the apex of each kink, while the rail on the southern side of the level crossing had also broken adjacent to the impact mark.
The marks and the damage are considered by the ATSB to be consistent with the lateral impact force from a heavy road vehicle colliding with the track infrastructure as it traversed the level crossing.
ATSB’s investigation is currently ongoing and working towards the production of a final report, which is expected to be released in the second quarter of 2018.
Details that are being investigated include the management arrangements for the level crossing, the details for heavy vehicle guidelines for excess dimension, rolling stock and track infrastructure maintenance records, locomotive event recorder analysis, and the results of laboratory testing and analysis of the damaged rails.