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Queensland Rail have confirmed that a freight train transporting fertiliser derailed near Charters Towers on the Mount Isa line this morning.
Phone photos from the scene of a derailed freight train carrying fertiliser outside of Charters Towers, reportedly derailed due to a wash-out due to recent flooding. Picture: SuppliedQueensland Rail acting CEO Kat Stapleton, said the drivers on-board were uninjured, “however a number of wagons have been impacted.”
“As a result, the Mount Isa line is closed to all rail traffic between Charters Towers and Townsville.,” she said.
“Queensland Rail staff have been deployed to undertake an initial assessment and plan a safe recovery.”
Phone photos from the scene of a derailed freight train carrying fertiliser outside of Charters Towers. Pictures: SuppliedMs Stapleton said regular updates would be provided to the community, freight partners and stakeholders “as investigations and recovery efforts take place.”
It is understood the derailment occurred at Plumtree Creek just east of Charters Towers.
Pictures from the scene of the accident appear to show the derailment was caused by a wash-out due to recent heavy rains and flooding.
The line carries passenger services.
Les Moffit, the Northern District representative of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, told the Townsville Bulletin that until recently Queensland Rail would always have train tracks checked by “local gang members physically travelling over the route”.
“To check that it was safe for trains to enter a section of track during extreme weather conditions.”
Phone photos from the scene of a derailed freight train carrying fertiliser outside of Charters Towers. Pictures: SuppliedHe said today “they rely more on basic information from train crew who have recently travelled over the area as well as technical data”.
Mr Moffit said Queensland Rail also placed “a lot of responsibility on the train controllers in respect to making that critical decision in regard to whether to allow trains to continue during these unpredictable times.”
“The RTBU believes that QR should review their current processes that they have in place in regard to the way they determine if it is safe for the track to remain open to traffic before someone is seriously injured,” he said in an email.
“It was only during the last wet season where we witnessed a Pacific National train involved in a serious incident due to track damage at Prairie that could have ended in a disastrous outcome for the train crew.”
Mr Moffit said the incident also involved a “crew van that had a crew travelling spare behind the locomotive in a crew van that ended up sitting over a portion of washed out track.”
Les Moffitt, the Northern District representative of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, said he had received a report of the derailment of a freight train carrying fertiliser.
He said initial reports from the scene indicated the derailment was the result of a “wash-out” of the railway tracks, presumably from recent rainfall and flooding.
“I’ve heard from one of the guys out there that a fertilizer train has come off in a wash-out.”
Mr Moffitt said Queensland Rail had procedures for monitoring the train track, which often carried passenger trains.
He classified the incident as serious with derailments infrequent.
“Queensland Rail need to improve their procedures to monitor tracks during these types of weather conditions.”
Queensland Rail have been contacted for a response.
This article first appeared on www.townsvillebulletin.com.au
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