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HUMAN error is believed to have caused a train derailment near Willow Tree three years ago, a new report has revealed.
On Friday, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau released its final report into the derailment of a Pacific National coal train on February 15, 2015, following a lengthy investigation into the incident.
The report found that "train management procedures” were not adhered to when the train made its descent between Ardglen and Kankool.
The procedures were designed to “keep the train stretched and reduce in-train forces on descending grades,” the report said.
The investigation revealed the bogie on the leading wagon of the empty Pacific National train derailed, after climbing the rail head while descending between Ardglen and Kankool.
It travelled in a “derailed state” for almost 2km before colliding with catch points at Kancool.
The train was en-route to Narrabri from Greta for loading when the incident occurred.
The report said the impact of the collision caused 19 wagons to derail, with 18 of them sustaining serious damage.
The derailment also damaged approximately 1900 metres of track and 2377 concrete sleepers.
The clean-up and repair of the tracks saw the line blocked for five days with passenger train services and coal trains suspended.
The Safety Bureau said as a result of the incident, Pacific National has reviewed its train handling guidelines for Electronically Controlled Pneumatic-braked trains
It also reviewed a train crew monitoring program to ensure conformance to the train management requirements.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation replaced the damaged infrastructure and installed an additional flange lubrication system on the Ardglen to Kankool section, to minimise friction in the wheel/rail interface.
In 2015 a Senate Estimates hearing was told the incident left a damage bill for the rail track administrator of $1 million.
As a result of the incident, investigators have urged train operators to remain vigilant in procedures.
“Any departure from or non-conformance to the procedures, whether major or minor, can result in catastrophic damage to both track and rolling stock,” the report said.
This article first appeared on www.huntervalleynews.net.au
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