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Slippery rails caused Cleveland station collision: ATSB

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> A Queensland Rail passenger train which collided with the Cleveland station platform on January 31 was unable to stop because of rails which had been made slippery by a film of leaf tissue and oils, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has found. </span> <p>ATSB investigators have decided that the driver of the train, which was carrying 19 passengers when it collided with the buffer stop at the end of the line before riding up and over the buffer stop and colliding with an overhead power line mast, was not at fault.</p><p>“The train driver’s actions on approach to Cleveland Station with respect to speed and braking indicates that they were consistent with sound driving practice and did not contribute to the accident,” the ATSB said.</p><p>Instead, according to the bureau, a ‘contaminated’ track was the cause for the train’s failure to stop.</p><p>A build-up of leaves, small pieces of timber, and natural oils reduced the friction coefficient between the train and the tracks, said the ATSB, preventing the train’s brakes from working effectively.</p><p>“Local environmental conditions resulted in the formation of a contaminant substance on the rail running surface that caused poor adhesion between the train’s wheels and the rail head,” the ATSB said.</p><p>In this way, the ATSB said, the incident has highlighted a ‘significant safety issue.'</p><p>“Queensland Rail’s risk management procedures did not sufficiently mitigate risk to the safe operation of trains when local environmental conditions result in contaminated rail running surfaces and reduced wheel/rail adhesion.”</p><p>Despite the highlighted safety issue, Queensland’s minister for transport and main roads Scott Emerson said the ATSB’s report had “ruled trains safe.”</p><p>“The Newman Government has welcomed the ATSB initerim report that rules out catastrophic brake failure as the cause of the train crash at Cleveland station on January 31,” a release from the minister’s office said.</p><p>Emerson said the report, which said that the train’s brakes were in full working order at the time of the accident, disproved claims by Rail, Tram and Bus Union Queensland state secretary Owen Doogan following the incident.</p><p>“It is disappointing Mr Doogan decided to take matters into his own hands and tell drivers not to operate one-third of city fleet, claiming there had been catastrophic break [sic] failure,” Emerson said in the release.</p>