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Poor communications cost rail industry yet again: Chiltern crash investigation

<p>Safety investigators have blamed poor communications and a deficient maintenance history as two major factors in last year’s crash between a passenger train and a derailed freight train near Chiltern in Victoria last year.</p> <p>The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation pointed to a number of factors behind the March 16, 2003 crash, which was effectively two incidents.</p> <p>The first incident involved the derailment of Pacific National train 1SP2N, travelling from Sydney to Perth via Melbourne along the Victoria’s standard-gauge network, at 3.08 pm.</p> <p>The second incident occurred four minutes later when V&#47Line passenger train 8318, travelling from Albury to Melbourne on the adjacent broad-gauge track, struck the wreckage of the derailed freight train.</p> <p>The locomotive and two passenger carriages derailed in the smash but no-one was seriously injured, ATSB reported.</p> <p>In the first incident, investigators found that a "screwed journal" in the 15th position of the train consist caused the Pacific National train to derail.</p> <p>This occurred when a wheel bearing failed and then seized, causing the wheelset to become unstable and then derail.</p> <p>ATSB found that the wagon had been in storage for several years and then re-introduced to service. </p> <p>The maintenance schedules for the bearing had been based on distance travelled rather than a combination of distance and time, meaning its maintenance history was "significantly degraded" as a result of time and ownership changes.</p> <p>"The lack of bearing history allowed an ineffective analysis of the history, and points to a deficiency in the system that may indicate poor practice at that time," ATSB stated.</p> <p>After the Pacific National train derailed and came to a halt, the train’s crew had about two minutes before the driver of the passenger train applied the emergency brake.</p> <p>The freight train drivers "repeatedly tried to warn train 8318" but were unsuccessful, ATSB said.</p> <p>They also followed procedure by notifying Australian Rail Track Corporation train control but the message was delayed by four minutes before being relayed to the broad-gauge train control centre &#8211 by which time the passenger train had struck the derailed train.</p> <p>"A number of reports from previous incidents at Hexham, Elders Block Point and Wodonga were reviewed by the investigation team for any similar factors," ATSB said.</p> <p>"In both the past incidents and the derailment at Chiltern, deficiencies were evident in the emergency communications between train control centres."</p> <p>ATSB made a number of recommendations, including:</p> <p>&#8226 Basing bearing maintenance on distance and time</p> <p>&#8226 Reviewing procedures for the re-introduction of stored rollingstock </p> <p>&#8226 A review of train control communications and </p> <p>&#8226 A review of emergency train-radio procedure training. </p> <table width="548" border="0"> <tr> <td height="90" width="58">&nbsp<a href=""><img src="" border="0" /></a></td> <td height="90" width="474"><a href=""><font size="3"><b>ImpEx Personnel with support from the CBFCA and AFIF are hosting an industry Charity Ball in support of The Children’s Hospital at Westmead <br /> – Click here</b></font></a></td> </tr> </table> <br />