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Australia’s transport accident investigator did not think a 50,000 tonne BHP train racing driverless across the Pilbara until it was deliberately derailed warranted sending its investigators to the site of the crash.
An Australian Transport Safety Bureau spokesman said it gave priority to investigations that affected the travelling public or had the potential to identify systemic issues.
“The ATSB has limited resources and simply cannot attend the scene of every incident,” he said. “Combing through wreckage may not yield the required evidence for an investigation of this type.”
He said the bureau’s investigators could collect the data they needed with interviews, obtaining recorded data and if necessary use legislative power to require documents to be handed over.
CFMMEU mining division State secretary Greg Busson said a thorough and open investigation was needed to understand why the train ran away this month.
“Any actions from the investigation should be enforced,” he said.
The ATSB investigation is expected to be completed by June. While the ATSB looks at the technical reasons for the crash that shut BHP’s iron ore railway for about a week, the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator determines whether any laws have been broken.
An ONRSR spokesman said it sent rail safety officers to Port Hedland on the day of the incident and they collected evidence at the scene of the derailment.
The rail safety regulator expects to decide in the new year whether action is needed.
The ONRSR also monitored the resumption of traffic on the two lines that link all of BHP’s Pilbara iron ore to Port Hedland.
“If ONRSR had any ongoing safety concerns we would have prohibited the resumption of operations,” the spokesman said.
Premier Mark McGowan said the investigation was a matter for Federal authorities. “The State Government is being kept informed on the progress of the investigation and we expect BHP will inform the public once the investigation is complete,” he said.
On Friday, BHP gave details of its preliminary investigation into the November 5 incident when a 268-car train careered for 50 minutes at an average speed of 110km/h. BHP attributed it to a combination of the driver not applying an air brake, an electric braking system automatically disengaging after an hour and failure of a third back-up brake system.
This article first appeared on thewest.com.au
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