BHP derails runaway iron ore train

 
  F4PhantomRAAF Locomotive Driver

M sometimes issues on trains like this can get really bad really quickly so at times they need to be investigated ASAP .

Why do you think its an issue to stand these trains on a 1:66 grade ?
ECP trains do this better than conventional ones because under normal circumstances they don't run out of air . Its a huge advantage with brakes applied to have a fully charged "brake pipe" and auxiliary reservoirs , the electronics regulate the Car Control devices .
BDA


ECP/EP brakes are great. I agree.

If there are shortcomings with the system we shall soon find out.

I wonder what 'extra measures' BHP has taken. Media reports they have a network enforced speed restriction. I hope they are not operating Driver Only Operations, because that is a no brainer.

Daniel

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  NIR112 Beginner

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  DBclass Chief Commissioner

Location: Western Australia
I estimate the trains required anchoring needs would be around 600 ton. Which is 150 ton per loco, at 200 ton per loco which I think there less then that anyway, it would mean a minimum of 75% traction, and their maximum is 50% on starting, with sand I would think.

I think KRviators response is the most likely, it’s the only one I’ve read or heard that actually sounds plausible. Its possible their SOPs etc don’t cover this event. They won’t know they need it in till they need it.
  F4PhantomRAAF Locomotive Driver

New opinion article at The west Australian Why BHP needs to come clean over runaway Pilbara train fiasco
  DBclass Chief Commissioner

Location: Western Australia
If only the author of that article had enough resources to research that locomotives have onboard ‘ablution’ facilities. I guess it’s supposed to be a joke. If the driver was pissing he wouldn’t need to leave the loco for that anyway.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
Thats a pretty patronising article (and self aggrandising) and I recommend that no-one reads it.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
New opinion article at The west Australian Why BHP needs to come clean over runaway Pilbara train fiasco
F4PhantomRAAF
Article is just plain childish.
  witzendoz Junior Train Controller

Location: Fremantle
The article was a sarcastic article fired at the BHP silence over the crash. It was written with humour, something that was wasted here it seems.
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
The article was a sarcastic article fired at the BHP silence over the crash. It was written with humour, something that was wasted here it seems.
witzendoz
No it was written by two 'journos' (perhaps better described as jocks) who are being smart asses about the thing.  BHB isn't going to comment whilst its still investigating and the way they have a go at BHP is just like kids in a school yard being sarcastic about a teacher that is ignoring them to look good in front of their mates.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
The article was a sarcastic article fired at the BHP silence over the crash. It was written with humour, something that was wasted here it seems.
witzendoz
The incident is not a matter for hilarity.
  M636C Minister for Railways

The depth of journalistic understanding is clear:

So, the most official account of the derailment thus far is that (the driver) heard a bit of a noise coming from one of his wagons.

These guys have never heard of (nor seen, nor heard on the radio) a hot box detector. Or a dragging equipment detector.
Those who suggested a "comfort stop" have never seen a locomotive cab.

I guess they expect that a handle in the cab magically applies a "parking brake" on four locomotives and 268 wagons.

Conspiracy theories for their own sake...



Peter
  iknowstuff Station Staff

Of course BHP will be tight lipped. The first insight will be the ATSB's preliminary report in the next month or so and that may not provide much to go.  If the press is its usual self there will be mass headlines of ill informed word twisting conclusive jumping BS to sell their publications. There's two possible faults for this, brake failure or Driver error.  

Agree the article was a bit adolescent but to the discerning reader, were the authors' trying to present a story within the story the best way they knew how?
  michaelgm Chief Commissioner

If only the author of that article had enough resources to research that locomotives have onboard ‘ablution’ facilities. I guess it’s supposed to be a joke. If the driver was pissing he wouldn’t need to leave the loco for that anyway.
DBclass
Yep, no need to leave the loco for that purpose, but should one choose to, exactly how far would you wander from the footplate, in the dark, in the middle of no where, to have a leak?
  potatoinmymouth Chief Commissioner

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/driver-at-fault-over-bhp-runaway-train-company-says/news-story/6fb9c29c7d882ab05297dca3ff5ca963

Driver error.

A brake system issue was the initial reason for the inspection.

The driver applied the electric park brake but not the air brake.

Due to the fault, the park brake disengaged after holding the train for an hour, and that was that.
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/driver-at-fault-over-bhp-runaway-train-company-says/news-story/6fb9c29c7d882ab05297dca3ff5ca963

Driver error.

A brake system issue was the initial reason for the inspection.

The driver applied the electric park brake but not the air brake.

Due to the fault, the park brake disengaged after holding the train for an hour, and that was that.
potatoinmymouth
That's your interpretation. There is nothing in the article that states "the park brake disengaged" and even if it did, I would be more inclined to believe KRviators view, rather than the press release or the company spin.  It is likely that the focus will now go on to the drivers knowledge and whether he was aware of the characteristics of ECP with pnuematic overlay.
  Lockspike Deputy Commissioner


Agree the article was a bit adolescent but to the discerning reader, were the authors' trying to present a story within the story the best way they knew how?
iknowstuff
If that's the case, they ought to find themselves a real job
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
A brake system issue was the initial reason for the inspection.

The driver applied the electric park brake but not the air brake.

Due to the fault, the park brake disengaged after holding the train for an hour, and that was that.
potatoinmymouth
And what electric park brake would that be?!? Have a look at their wagons, like almost every other wagon in the country*, they have handbrake wheels. Their park brakes are manual.

*PNQ's skeletal wagons & TrailerRail wagon's being the only exceptions I personally know of...

BHP has attributed last week’s runaway train derailment in the Pilbara to a combination brake system failure and incorrect operating procedure.

The mining giant this afternoon released details of its preliminary investigation into the incident on the morning of Monday, November 5, in which a 268-car train was able to career driverless for 50 minutes at an average speed of 110km/h before it was deliberately derailed about 120km south of Port Hedland. The driver had stopped about 210km from the port and got off to inspect a wagon but the train started to move with no one aboard.

BHP’s WA iron ore asset president Edgar Basto this afternoon said initial findings showed the train came to a stop after a braking system control cable became disconnected.
The West

So the ECP cable separated, that would give an ECP Emergency (120%) application throughout the train, the front (ahead of the break) because it is commanded from the HEU due to the loss of the ETM Beacon. The rear (behind the break), because those CCD's have lost comms with the HEU. This is all a safety feature of the ECP system.

“The train began to move after the driver had disembarked to carry out an inspection, becoming what is termed a rollaway train,” he said. “Our initial findings show that the emergency air brake for the entire train was not engaged as required by the relevant operating procedure.
The West
Reading this, it sounds like the Driver didn't go to Emergency and dump the BP air. Not altogether his fault. I was talking to one of our Driver's last week and even he thought that an ECP 120% = Pneumatic Emergency. It doesn't. A pneumatic emergency will always give an ECP120%, but not the other way around.

“In addition, the electric braking system that initially stopped the train, automatically released after an hour while the driver was still outside.
The West

This is normal operation of the ECP system when the wagon CCD loses comms with the Head End Unit on the locomotive. The wagon's still in comm with the HEU will maintain their 120% application, though the brake shoes will likely burn away pretty quickly, depending how many remain applied.

“Due to integration failure of the back-up braking system, it was not able to deploy successfully.”
The West
Spin for "We screwed up, and didn't configure the ATP to dump the BP if ECP doesn't stop the train, instead, we were relying on a single-point failure (A driver remembering procedure 100%, 100% of the time) to ensure the train doesn't emulate an AutoHaul train and depart sans crew. Other operators use a 'dump device' - basically a dummy brake-pipe fitting that is clamped to or around the rail and connected to the BP on the loco. The idea being, if the train moves, the dump device separates and the BP air exhausts to atmosphere via the now-open angle cock on the loco.

Mr Basto said the train was derailed intentionally because it could not be stopped with the braking system. The cause was a combination of brake system failure and incorrect operating procedure. He said the company had put in place a range of safety controls as a result of its initial findings into the incident.

The mining giant restarted rail operations across its Pilbara iron ore network last week after clearing the track and repairing the damaged section of it. Mr Basto said investigations by regulators, which included the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, were ongoing and the company was working with them to learn from the incident. “Our focus remains on the safety of our people and our operations,” Mr Basto said. Source
The West
Apart from the reported ECP cable fault, I would say the braking system functioned exactly as it was designed to... I would also suggest BHP (and by default, the majority of their crew) did not completely understand the system and the potential failure modes. I cannot fault the Driver's for that - Companies have a responsibility to train their employees and not all of them feel it necessary to spend the $$. This is what happens when you don't...
  42101 A end Junior Train Controller

KR
Great write up and fully agree...a old hand however would have blown her down fully before going for a wander though.
  F4PhantomRAAF Locomotive Driver
  F4PhantomRAAF Locomotive Driver

A brake system issue was the initial reason for the inspection.

The driver applied the electric park brake but not the air brake.

Due to the fault, the park brake disengaged after holding the train for an hour, and that was that.
And what electric park brake would that be?!? Have a look at their wagons, like almost every other wagon in the country*, they have handbrake wheels. Their park brakes are manual.

*PNQ's skeletal wagons & TrailerRail wagon's being the only exceptions I personally know of...

BHP has attributed last week’s runaway train derailment in the Pilbara to a combination brake system failure and incorrect operating procedure.

The mining giant this afternoon released details of its preliminary investigation into the incident on the morning of Monday, November 5, in which a 268-car train was able to career driverless for 50 minutes at an average speed of 110km/h before it was deliberately derailed about 120km south of Port Hedland. The driver had stopped about 210km from the port and got off to inspect a wagon but the train started to move with no one aboard.

BHP’s WA iron ore asset president Edgar Basto this afternoon said initial findings showed the train came to a stop after a braking system control cable became disconnected.

So the ECP cable separated, that would give an ECP Emergency (120%) application throughout the train, the front (ahead of the break) because it is commanded from the HEU due to the loss of the ETM Beacon. The rear (behind the break), because those CCD's have lost comms with the HEU. This is all a safety feature of the ECP system.

“The train began to move after the driver had disembarked to carry out an inspection, becoming what is termed a rollaway train,” he said. “Our initial findings show that the emergency air brake for the entire train was not engaged as required by the relevant operating procedure.
Reading this, it sounds like the Driver didn't go to Emergency and dump the BP air. Not altogether his fault. I was talking to one of our Driver's last week and even he thought that an ECP 120% = Pneumatic Emergency. It doesn't. A pneumatic emergency will always give an ECP120%, but not the other way around.

“In addition, the electric braking system that initially stopped the train, automatically released after an hour while the driver was still outside.

This is normal operation of the ECP system when the wagon CCD loses comms with the Head End Unit on the locomotive. The wagon's still in comm with the HEU will maintain their 120% application, though the brake shoes will likely burn away pretty quickly, depending how many remain applied.

“Due to integration failure of the back-up braking system, it was not able to deploy successfully.”
Spin for "We screwed up, and didn't configure the ATP to dump the BP if ECP doesn't stop the train, instead, we were relying on a single-point failure (A driver remembering procedure 100%, 100% of the time) to ensure the train doesn't emulate an AutoHaul train and depart sans crew. Other operators use a 'dump device' - basically a dummy brake-pipe fitting that is clamped to or around the rail and connected to the BP on the loco. The idea being, if the train moves, the dump device separates and the BP air exhausts to atmosphere via the now-open angle cock on the loco.

Mr Basto said the train was derailed intentionally because it could not be stopped with the braking system. The cause was a combination of brake system failure and incorrect operating procedure. He said the company had put in place a range of safety controls as a result of its initial findings into the incident.

The mining giant restarted rail operations across its Pilbara iron ore network last week after clearing the track and repairing the damaged section of it. Mr Basto said investigations by regulators, which included the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, were ongoing and the company was working with them to learn from the incident. “Our focus remains on the safety of our people and our operations,” Mr Basto said. Source
Apart from the reported ECP cable fault, I would say the braking system functioned exactly as it was designed to... I would also suggest BHP (and by default, the majority of their crew) did not completely understand the system and the potential failure modes. I cannot fault the Driver's for that - Companies have a responsibility to train their employees and not all of them feel it necessary to spend the $$. This is what happens when you don't...
KRviator

Some very good commentary there KRviator. You have an excellent understanding and I did see your earlier posts. I have seen that rail device where it is screwed to the rails-a dummy air hose. $5000 worth of these would have saved $250million worth of costs associated with the disaster, cleanup and missed contractual obligations and/or loss of income.

BHP derailment: Mining giant reveals details behind cause of runaway iron ore train drama near Port Hedland


Having operated EP/ECP, I think if a cable is broken then it shouldn't release the brake, but I think the batteries of the units exhaust on each wagon and that is one of the reasons? The complexities.

Do you agree that if the EP brake is applied on the wagon/car and the cable is broken (no transmission) then it should 'lock' in the apply position IF the air in the BP is still 90PSI (700kpa)-the Pilbara operates with US/American air brakes not like in Southern Australia where it is British.

So if a EP locking mechanism can be developed then all good. A failsafe.

Now if the air is lost and the cable is broken it would apply pneumatically-no EP. But I think this has a complex answer to it as well.

Then if the air hose is disconnected/comes apaprt but the EP cable is still attached, there needs to be an application. I think this is the most basic as when the EP detects a dump in BP pressure the emergency is applied.

The biggest problem from how I see it is that 1 hour time limit. Now forgive my mistakes if I make any, but as I mentioned above, it is due to the batteries on the wagons/cars that enable it to operate and talk with the Head unit.

So assuming I haven't made a mistake without referring to subtanstial documentation, the cure for it would be the manufacturer developing a failsafe mechanism. Probably that if the unit 'dies' (battery goes flat) but as you say the 1 hour limit is part of the hardware/software and that is possibly to protect from battery failure, then at present it releases.

So solving this problem would be
1. Ensure driver training is absolute on this technical problem. Applying emergency FULL.
2. Work with manufacturer to develop failsafe units that won't release the brakes after 1 hour and I have already described it.


There may be errors in this, but I have always had a respect for the complexity the EP brakes create. They are absolutely brilliant for train handling and so easy to use when running right. But add a few curve balls (or just one-in this case the cable break) in and you get horrendous outcomes.


The big BUT.

What I don't understand is how the train did not apply an emergency brake when it started rolling? If the reverser was in centre/neutral, I have seen the technology (I think BHP has this tech) that incorporates a movement alarm thus emergency brake protection. This would have been the cure. BUT if the BP was already 0 or under 425kpa then there might not have been enough air in the system to use the only pneumatic failsafe available. As I said, EP/ECP braking is brilliant when it is working. But throw a curve ball....

But if a 120% EP/ECP service did not activate emergency, then there would have been air in the system to apply the brakes.

“Due to integration failure of the back-up braking system, it was not able to deploy successfully.”

Integration failure? The air hose was still connected throughout the train and should have had full operating pressure-90psi.

If a 2nd driver was on board he could have applied an emergency application. But if the reverser was in NEUTRAL the movement alarm would have done the same thing.


So as a result, there are two questions needing answers here.

1.  Was the reverser placed in centre? (I am assuming this to be no-it was in forward and I believe it may have something to do with the Driver/Operator panicking.)


2.  Did the Locomotive have the Movement Alarm technology? (I assume this to be yes)


As I stated on Page 1 or 2 of this thread. I believe the Locomotive brakes were ON and reverser was in forward, thus enabling a train runaway as the train thought the driver was on board.

Yes if the driver had operated the train brake to FULL EMERGENCY it would have solved the problem. AND if there was a 2nd driver on board due to the fact that having two heads are better, they can check each other. I know this from experience.

I have seen too many mistakes and errors being made from Driver Only Operations. And to their credit National Rail Corporation/Pacific National drivers were taking the initiative in the early days. They would cross check with train control their signal aspects. Train control would not say it was green/proceed but they said "On my panel the signal has been released (or shows clear) to clear and the points set for your train" or something similar. I may remember later the more exact wording.

What I am getting at here is the crew resource management in which airlines identified in several accidents.

QANTAS uses cross checking and keeping the pilots of equal standing in the cockpit simply for the reason that they can check each other without fear of reprisal and losing 'brownie points'.

Some of you may not get it but I do because I have seen firsthand that one error can cost a few million dollars. And all for going Driver Only.

Driver Only is fine as long as you have ATP and video/audio connection with the driver and that the 2nd person can have full audio and video and can cross check.



Daniel
  DBclass Chief Commissioner

Location: Western Australia
I’m not convinced two drivers would have solved this. The issue is humans, not the quantity. It may have reduced the risk however but not eliminated it.

ECP is to my mind a fairly recent technology, as in 10 years, in this country anyway, and this is just a missed detail. Engineering history is full of right place right time one in a million failures. This was just another. Any braking system that can release brakes uncommanded is begging for it. As KRviator says, it could have been setup so Westinghouse operation begins after dumping and recharging the brake pipe. Easy.
  F4PhantomRAAF Locomotive Driver

I’m not convinced two drivers would have solved this. The issue is humans, not the quantity. It may have reduced the risk however but not eliminated it.

ECP is to my mind a fairly recent technology, as in 10 years, in this country anyway, and this is just a missed detail. Engineering history is full of right place right time one in a million failures. This was just another. Any braking system that can release brakes uncommanded is begging for it. As KRviator says, it could have been setup so Westinghouse operation begins after dumping and recharging the brake pipe. Easy.
DBclass

These air brakes are NOT Westinghouse. They only have a failsafe mechanism that will apply the brakes in an emergency. If the Brake Pipe hose has a sudden reduction in pressure, it dumps, and applies.

These air brakes are built for and ARE EP/ECP.

That is, they are a totally new type of air brake. Westinghouse brakes depend on reduction of air to apply brakes, where as these command via an electric/electronic system using air pressure.

The Westinghouse System: http://www.railway-technical.com/trains/rolling-stock-index-l/train-equipment/brakes/

The Electronic Air Brake System http://www.railway-technical.com/trains/rolling-stock-index-l/train-equipment/brakes/electro-pneumatic-brakes-d.html

Even the article recognises that ECP brakes are a completely new system and describes the difference:


Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) brakes

A new form of electrical control of air braking is currently being tested by a number of railroads in the US. It is known as ECP and uses modern electronic techniques to overcome the problems of air braking on long freight trains.

The pure air control brake system invented by George Westinghouse in the 1860s and still used by almost all freight trains in the US and in many other parts of the world suffers from two main problems. It takes a long time for the air messages to travel along the train and there is no graduated release. For example, the delay for a reduction in train line pressure to travel from the leading locomotive to the rear of a 150 car consist can be 60 seconds. Also, you have to fully release the brake and wait for the supply reservoirs to recharge before you can reapply. Electrical control can overcome these difficulties.

ECP refers to Electronically Controlled Pneumatic brakes, key word being "Electronically" as opposed to "electrically". Older systems fitted to passenger trains (see above), use several train wires to operate individual valves or variations in switching of the wires to control brakes. Most of these systems use a second train line for main reservoir air supplies and they do not have the built-in two-way communications that ECP systems have. A car in an ECP brake train can do a self-diagnosis and report the information to the engineer and it only requires the standard train line pipe.
  iknowstuff Station Staff

Point taken F4PhantomRAAF. But with your obvious train driving experience you still have questions.

Firstly, I refer back to my earlier post relating to Management of the incident by BHP. It's just beautiful!  Instead of handing the ATSB a pneumatic hose they handed them an Electrical cable. Here is the fault and we found it amongst all the wreckage, or was the disconnect near the end the train?

So EP/ECP technology is 10 years old, I remember its inception and discussions around how safe it will be compared to W'house 26L braking in terms of stopping distances etc. and BI2 protection for the brake pipe and the 230vdc cable. ECP was designed to  interrogate the cars  of the consist at setup to know what cars were in the train obviously for fault diagnostics and reporting. Unless the software has been changed (not likely)  it knew the last car identity. So periodically pinging the last car with an "are you there request and acknowledge" over the electrical control cable just goes with the communication protocol designed for these vital data systems.

If in 10 years of manufacturing brake systems and now with Distributed Power functionality as part, the manufacturers don't have the most basic and obvious form of protection in their communication software............. well what can I say, its just not true. Further more standard IEC principles of communication design come into the design scope.  

Seems unlikely the cable disconnected after the train was stopped, more likely at loading and a notification alarm would/should have gone back to train control and driver through the ECP system. I can't believe for a second that a cable disconnect was the cause even allowing for poor driver training of not being to recognising an alarm in the brake system.

Sorry, the root cause of fault is much deeper in the brake system and on board but that will remain for investigation completely within BHP now.
  DBclass Chief Commissioner

Location: Western Australia
Must understanding is they are ECP, but as KRviator points out, after one hour of lost communication it reverts to the Westinghouse style operation, as in, applies the brakes based on brake pipe reduction. As it would be fully charged at the time, it means a release. I do know the difference. This is required for working trains with and without ECP equiped wagons.
  DalyWaters Chief Commissioner

From what I gather, just about everything the driver does on the train at BHP is communicated to Train Control.

I am surprised that the driver would not be required to state what position he/she has the brake handle and reverser in before exiting the locomotive.

If not, why not?

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