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A report into a derailment in northern Victoria last year has recommended V/Line undertake a risk review of its standards for sleeper inspection and assessment, and that it implement safety actions to reduce the possibility of future derailments.
Pacific National freight train 9305 – consisting of 2 locomotives hauling 37 flatbed wagons carrying empty containers – was bound for Tocumwal in NSW, having departed from Tottenham Yard, Melbourne, when it derailed while passing through Katunga at approximately 12.25AM on 30 May, 2016.
The crew reportedly felt a bump and rough riding, which was followed by a loss of brake pipe pressure resulting in an application of the brakes. After the driver released the locomotive independent brake, the train eventually came to a stop, allowing the crew to investigate the cause of the brake and advise Centrol of the incident.
The ATSB report reveals that the train had derailed after passing over a fractured flash butt welded rail joint. The joint had been disturbed by the passage of the train enough to laterally misalign the rail ends, causing a wheel flange to impact with the rail head on the down-end, which lead to further disarrangement of the rail.
While several wagons remained upright and continued following the track alignment, several others veered to the east of the track, causing a separation between the wagons. This lead to a loss of brake pipe pressure and the subsequent application of the train brakes.
According to the report, the derailment resulted in damage to approximately 350 metres of track. No injuries occurred during the incident.
An analysis of the condition of the fracture surfaces of the rail joint indicated that the fracture had occurred several days prior to the freight train 9305’s passage.
It is likely, the report states, that “the passage of trains had resulted in the deterioration of rail fixings around the fracture. This deterioration was sufficient to allow the development of a lateral discontinuity at the fracture during the passage of train 9305 resulting in the derailment of the train”.
This article first appeared on www.railexpress.com.au
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