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THEY say a good tradesman never blames his tools.
Rail maintenance workers at Adelaide's Mt Lofty yesterday didn't have a choice - their tool, a 15m ballast regulator, simply took off on an unmanned 7km journey.
Three workers were left helpless as a suspected brake failure allowed the machine - used to settle ballast on the railway line - to gain momentum on the downhill line, until it came to stop 13 minutes later at Bridgewater.
During the trek, which started at 11.04am, the out-of-control machine crossed three level crossings.
It was not known whether signals were activated.
Although no one was injured, operators Transfield Services said the incident was of "significant concern".
"The nature of the incident is obviously of significant concern to ARTC and Transfield Services," said Australian Rail Track Corporation managing director David Marchant.
"ARTC is commencing an immediate investigation into the circumstances concerning the operation of the machine."
The ballast regulator was towed back to Mt Lofty station by noon and Transfield Services workers left the site by 3pm.
The incident has been reported to the State Rail Safety Regulator and other relevant authorities.
RAA traffic and safety engineer Rita Excell said the RAA was concerned the train had posed a real risk for motorists.
"We are on a state level crossing safety committee with the ARTC and we will be taking (the issue) there for immediate investigation," she said.
"Fortunately it wasn't more serious but that doesn't mean we should be complacent.
"We're encouraged that the ARTC has announced its own investigation but it's not something that should have happened at all.
"It wasn't like it happened in the middle of nowhere."
The Advertiser/News Interactive
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