BHP derails runaway iron ore train

 
  michaelgm Deputy Commissioner

That line,in the sand is difficult to define. If every employee got the bullet for every mistake, every workplace would be a series of revolving doors.
If an organisation want an employee gone, for what ever reason, simply sweeten the deal with $$$, to pi$$ off quietly. Have seen people made "redundant" paid entitlements and no challenge was avaliable.

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  GS4 Train Controller

Does every driver get the sack when they make a mistake? If the train had of rolled and stopped in a valley would he still get the sack, or is just because it made a mess. I don’t really see the justification based on the consequense if that’s the case.
I saw a similar comment in LinkedIn, "should forgetfulness be enough for dismissal? Rather should we not be focused on prevention of re-occurrence?

Without commenting on the specifics for this incident as the details are obviously still not fully well known. My comment is this,
If converting a $20m train into scrap metal because someone forgot is not enough for dismissal, then what is? Do people need to be injured or die for there to be significant disciplinary action? I can tell you there are alot jobs we all do that if forgot something and we caused 1% of the damage we would be sacked. The question is, at what point do we accept accountability for the damage we caused such that its a deterrence to others to ensure they are more thoughtful?
RTT_Rules
It's far far less than 1% of that amount of damage ,, , , and the pay rates are a small fraction.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
That line,in the sand is difficult to define. If every employee got the bullet for every mistake, every workplace would be a series of revolving doors.
If an organisation want an employee gone, for what ever reason, simply sweeten the deal with $$$, to pi$$ off quietly. Have seen people made "redundant" paid entitlements and no challenge was avaliable.
michaelgm
Agree the line in the sand is difficult to define as it depends on the cost, reason caused, has it happened before, was the employee set up to fail sooner or later.

I suppose in this case I think most would agree, $20m is so far past the line in the sand that if it was simple forgetfulness, he has to go. How can a company simply wear that and provide no deterrent for others.
  witzendoz Junior Train Controller

Location: Fremantle
Does every driver get the sack when they make a mistake? If the train had of rolled and stopped in a valley would he still get the sack, or is just because it made a mess. I don’t really see the justification based on the consequense if that’s the case.
DBclass

Trouble with this logic is that if the train had hit a bus full of people at a crossing because of the high speed, the driver would probably be facing manslaughter charges.  I feel for the driver but there is a case for dismissal.
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
Loss of the 250 v means loss of the ECP control signal (which is what happened in the BHP incident when the cable parted.) The batteries are indeed needed to apply the brake when 250 volts is lost, along with the control signal.
M636C
Not quite. You can - and I have occasionally on the mainline - run ECP with Trainline Power OFF, as you've correctly said the ECP commands are superimposed upon, not reliant on, the 240 TL power supply. You (theoretically) have 60 minutes run-time on the CCD batteries to get you to a better spot, or try to troubleshoot the issue.


That line,in the sand is difficult to define. If every employee got the bullet for every mistake, every workplace would be a series of revolving doors.
If an organisation want an employee gone, for what ever reason, simply sweeten the deal with $$$, to pi$$ off quietly. Have seen people made "redundant" paid entitlements and no challenge was avaliable.
Agree the line in the sand is difficult to define as it depends on the cost, reason caused, has it happened before, was the employee set up to fail sooner or later.

I suppose in this case I think most would agree, $20m is so far past the line in the sand that if it was simple forgetfulness, he has to go. How can a company simply wear that and provide no deterrent for others.
RTT_Rules
In my opinion - Easily. From information available thus far, it appears BHP chose not to utilise all available safeguards to prevent a runaway. Presumably to save a few $$$ as it's cheaper to "procedurealise" an issue away than it is to implement engineering controls.

They did not integrate their ATP with the pneumatic air brake - only the ECP system, they did not implement a feature to trigger a pneumatic emergency before ECP automatically transitioned to Cutout as others up there do, they did not utilise a device clamped to the rail to exhaust BP air to atmosphere if the train moved.

Instead, they relied on a Driver remembering procedure 100%, 100% of the time - and it is his fault the train ran away? Puh-lease. I have heard a rumour the requirement to go to Emergency following a Loss of ETM penalty was a relatively new requirement of BHP - which, if true, makes me wonder just how good their safety-critical documentation distribution system is...

Yes, the Driver screwed up by not going to Emergency - but the reason for train departing without him was put in motion a loooooong time before he signed on that night - and BHP not having the balls to admit as such doesn't bode well for a just safety culture.

A similar viewpoint could be expressed about the pilots operating QF1 20 years ago. Planned a F25/Idle reverse landing to a contaminated runway, flew the approach high, fast, and landed long, then decided to go around but then cancelled that decision and left #1 at takeoff power, never selected reverse or noticed the absence of it, and all-but totalled a hundred-and-fifty-million dollar 747. Yet they kept their jobs and flew for Qantas for years afterwards - because Qantas in effect, set them up by implementing a F25/Idle reverse policy as a preferred procedure as a cost-saving measure.

Personally, I reckon ol' mate has a pretty good claim and I think he'll do quite well out of it - at least, until he gets the lawyers bill...
  ANR Train Controller
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
$600m mistake... Should have let it keep rolling!


https://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-22/iron-ore-train-derailment-inflicts-heavy-financial-blow-on-bhp/10737426?pfmredir=sm
ANR
And that's US Dollars too! Shocked

As the old saying goes, IF you think safety's expensive, try having an accident!
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Loss of the 250 v means loss of the ECP control signal (which is what happened in the BHP incident when the cable parted.) The batteries are indeed needed to apply the brake when 250 volts is lost, along with the control signal.
Not quite. You can - and I have occasionally on the mainline - run ECP with Trainline Power OFF, as you've correctly said the ECP commands are superimposed upon, not reliant on, the 240 TL power supply. You (theoretically) have 60 minutes run-time on the CCD batteries to get you to a better spot, or try to troubleshoot the issue.


That line,in the sand is difficult to define. If every employee got the bullet for every mistake, every workplace would be a series of revolving doors.
If an organisation want an employee gone, for what ever reason, simply sweeten the deal with $$$, to pi$$ off quietly. Have seen people made "redundant" paid entitlements and no challenge was avaliable.
Agree the line in the sand is difficult to define as it depends on the cost, reason caused, has it happened before, was the employee set up to fail sooner or later.

I suppose in this case I think most would agree, $20m is so far past the line in the sand that if it was simple forgetfulness, he has to go. How can a company simply wear that and provide no deterrent for others.
In my opinion - Easily. From information available thus far, it appears BHP chose not to utilise all available safeguards to prevent a runaway. Presumably to save a few $$$ as it's cheaper to "procedurealise" an issue away than it is to implement engineering controls.

They did not integrate their ATP with the pneumatic air brake - only the ECP system, they did not implement a feature to trigger a pneumatic emergency before ECP automatically transitioned to Cutout as others up there do, they did not utilise a device clamped to the rail to exhaust BP air to atmosphere if the train moved.

Instead, they relied on a Driver remembering procedure 100%, 100% of the time - and it is his fault the train ran away? Puh-lease. I have heard a rumour the requirement to go to Emergency following a Loss of ETM penalty was a relatively new requirement of BHP - which, if true, makes me wonder just how good their safety-critical documentation distribution system is...

Yes, the Driver screwed up by not going to Emergency - but the reason for train departing without him was put in motion a loooooong time before he signed on that night - and BHP not having the balls to admit as such doesn't bode well for a just safety culture.

A similar viewpoint could be expressed about the pilots operating QF1 20 years ago. Planned a F25/Idle reverse landing to a contaminated runway, flew the approach high, fast, and landed long, then decided to go around but then cancelled that decision and left #1 at takeoff power, never selected reverse or noticed the absence of it, and all-but totalled a hundred-and-fifty-million dollar 747. Yet they kept their jobs and flew for Qantas for years afterwards - because Qantas in effect, set them up by implementing a F25/Idle reverse policy as a preferred procedure as a cost-saving measure.

Personally, I reckon ol' mate has a pretty good claim and I think he'll do quite well out of it - at least, until he gets the lawyers bill...
KRviator
VH-OJH was scrapped 12 years after the incident and was back in regular use not long after the incident after 23 years of service to QF, so not it wasn't totalled and damage much less than BHP's train, however I agree there were numerous errors. Typically pilots involved in major incidents even if no deaths often don't fly again as the airline(s) don't trust them.

Agree with your analysis of the BHP incident, it gets down to was he set up to fail and if so why did this not happen before, swiss cheese effect? Point is someone has to pay for the +$20m loss and yes companies can expect employees to get it 100% right all the time. However their loss is significantly larger than his so its cost BHP loss of revenue, hardware, public relations disaster.

I've seen a major company that was going to dump an employee (Planner for safety breech), he wasn't willing to let 23 years go down the drain for something that wasn't totally his fault as a number of more senior people involved, saw a lawyer on the side and got a letter drafted. kept in his pocket. When called in by HR he heard them starting their speech with dismal around the corner and just before they got there he pulled the letter out. Cut them short saved his job, Management moved on a few months later.

The driver may win his case, but not sure he would want to go back.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Following this with interest but how could the accident have amounted to $600m?

It has been said the train was deliberately derailed by control but was this the only option to stop the runaway?
  TheMeddlingMonk Deputy Commissioner

Location: The Time Vortex near Melbourne, Australia
Following this with interest but how could the accident have amounted to $600m?

It has been said the train was deliberately derailed by control but was this the only option to stop the runaway?
x31
The accident itself wouldn't be $600m. It would be all the lost profit and halt to operations that cost that much.
  M636C Minister for Railways

It has been said the train was deliberately derailed by control but was this the only option to stop the runaway?

Pretty Much!
The train was doing something like 100km/h and it was all downhill to Port Hedland.

The problem was that the designers of the automatic train protection system didn't ever envisage a train running at speed with the ECP brakes turned off. The system to prevent trains passing signals at danger only operated on the ECP brakes, not the Westinghouse air brake control (which was still active with all vehicles connected.)

Had the ECP been still working, the train could have been stopped by placing the next signal at danger (Garden South, at 210km, one kilometre from where the train first stopped). But as designed, the brakes released after one hour and the driver had not applied the air brakes by reducing the train pipe pressure.

Ironoically, the ECP was turned off to preserve the batteries on each car, needed to actuate the air brake system if a locomotive without ECP brakes was required to move the train using air brakes only. BHP's locomotives are all fitted with ECP, so the train could have been moved even if all the batteries were dead since the 250 volts would have operated the valves.

The requirement to preserve the batteries is based on the Association of American Railroads standard which was drawn up expecting ECP trains to be an exception among air brake trains. The requirement  to keep the batteries is not as important on an all ECP system as it would be where an ECP train might be stopped after (say) the locomotive and a few cars derailed, and the rest of the train would have to be moved by a non ECP locomotive to clear the track.




Peter
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

Following this with interest but how could the accident have amounted to $600m?

It has been said the train was deliberately derailed by control but was this the only option to stop the runaway?
The accident itself wouldn't be $600m. It would be all the lost profit and halt to operations that cost that much.
TheMeddlingMonk
Was that not the total number for all un-forseen interruptions.
  M636C Minister for Railways

Following this with interest but how could the accident have amounted to $600m?

It has been said the train was deliberately derailed by control but was this the only option to stop the runaway?
The accident itself wouldn't be $600m. It would be all the lost profit and halt to operations that cost that much.
Was that not the total number for all un-forseen interruptions.
fzr560
The line was closed for a week.

Assume 12 trains a day at 30 000 tonnes per train = 2 520 000 tonnes at (say) $40/tonne  = $100,800,000 lost production

So there would have been other problems....

The replacement cost of the train would be in the millions and clearing up and repairs would have been in hundreds of thousands.

Peter
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Was derailing the train the only option available to BHP?
  fzr560 Chief Train Controller

Was derailing the train the only option available to BHP?
x31
Denzel Washington was not available.Very Happy
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

Following this with interest but how could the accident have amounted to $600m?

It has been said the train was deliberately derailed by control but was this the only option to stop the runaway?
The accident itself wouldn't be $600m. It would be all the lost profit and halt to operations that cost that much.
Was that not the total number for all un-forseen interruptions.
fzr560
Including other unrelated issues at a number of sites nowhere near the Pilbara:

"Productivity for the December 2018 half year has been impacted by unplanned production outages at Olympic Dam, Spence and (Western Australia Iron Ore), with a total negative impact of approximately $US600 million," BHP's half-yearly operational review stated.
ABC
  james.au Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney, NSW
VH-OJH was scrapped 12 years after the incident and was back in regular use not long after the incident after 23 years of service to QF, so not it wasn't totalled and damage much less than BHP's train
RTT_Rules
Its generally known that QF spent an inordinate amount of money to rebuild OJH after that accident to keep their reputation intact, ie that of having no jet accidents.  Had QF not been concerned about it, OJH would have been written off and cut up in the DMK airport precinct for scrap.
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
Was derailing the train the only option available to BHP?
Denzel Washington was not available.Very Happy
fzr560
it was a very expensive decision so this is why I am asking.
  michaelgm Deputy Commissioner

Was derailing the train the only option available to BHP?
Denzel Washington was not available.Very Happy
it was a very expensive decision so this is why I am asking.
x31
Denzel, wanted $700 million. Cheaper to derail.

Edit. Likely made the correct decision. 30 000 of heavy metal thundering into their unloader, could have disrupted movements by months.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
VH-OJH was scrapped 12 years after the incident and was back in regular use not long after the incident after 23 years of service to QF, so not it wasn't totalled and damage much less than BHP's train
Its generally known that QF spent an inordinate amount of money to rebuild OJH after that accident to keep their reputation intact, ie that of having no jet accidents.  Had QF not been concerned about it, OJH would have been written off and cut up in the DMK airport precinct for scrap.
james.au
Thanks I looked up the repair power point presentation, yes alot more than I first thought and some threads at the time with guesstimate pricing. A 6mth repair job by Boeing staff in Thailand would not have been cheap, especially having to replace parts of the air frame.
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Was derailing the train the only option available to BHP?
Denzel Washington was not available.Very Happy
it was a very expensive decision so this is why I am asking.
Denzel, wanted $700 million. Cheaper to derail.
michaelgm
Have they not seen the movie, "the runaway" or something like that where a guy chases a runaway train from a ski resort in a loco and grabs the train just in time for it to stop on the platform in a terminus station. Tonnage is a bit bigger so they would need likely 10 locos or more to slow this monster.
  M636C Minister for Railways

Was derailing the train the only option available to BHP?
Denzel Washington was not available.Very Happy
it was a very expensive decision so this is why I am asking.
Denzel, wanted $700 million. Cheaper to derail.
Have they not seen the movie, "the runaway" or something like that where a guy chases a runaway train from a ski resort in a loco and grabs the train just in time for it to stop on the platform in a terminus station. Tonnage is a bit bigger so they would need likely 10 locos or more to slow this monster.
RTT_Rules
The Denzel Washinton movie was called "Unstoppable"

To return to the question:

The train was running downhill at about 100km/h.
There was no means of actuating the brakes remotely or from trackside equipment.
There were no significant rising grades to slow the train.

I can't think of anything other than derailment.

In fact it appears that the site of the derailment was chosen to simplify the clean up.

If anyone has a suggestion as to how the train could have been stopped without derailment please let me know...

Peter
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
The line was closed for a week.

Assume 12 trains a day at 30 000 tonnes per train = 2 520 000 tonnes at (say) $40/tonne  = $100,800,000 lost production

So there would have been other problems....

The replacement cost of the train would be in the millions and clearing up and repairs would have been in hundreds of thousands.

Peter
M636C
Plus there is some suggestion that they will get back some of the lost production in the subsequent quarter. They were apptly stockpiling product while the railway was out of action and hope to claw back some volume.

BG
  neillfarmer Train Controller

On  'Railpictures.net'  there is a photo by Mike Harriman of a UP unit that was involved in a similar incident at Granite Wyoming caused by a kinked air hose.
Neill Farmer

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