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A transport safety authority's report into a freight train derailment in Tasmania is questioned by the rail operator's CEO, who admits he has not read the report "completely".
But TasRail's CEO Damian White said while he had not read the report "completely" the company disputed the findings.
A half-kilometre-long freight train consisting of two locomotives hauling 34 wagons for the Tasmanian Government-owned operator came off the tracks at Nala, while travelling from Boyer near Hobart to Burnie in August 2015.
The train driver was uninjured but the derailment caused significant damage to the wagons and about 200 metres of the track was destroyed, with the train continuing to travel another 2.3 kilometres before it stopped.
It forced the closure of the rail corridor between Launceston and Hobart for three days, forcing alternative transport arrangements for freight.
An investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) found there were a series of defects close to the point of derailment (PoD) which were not fixed in the lead-up to the incident.
"A review of maintenance records found that a defect was identified (near the PoD) three days before the derailment. The defect was categorised as priority 1 requiring immediate attention, but did not result in the maintenance response specified by the standard," the report stated.
Rail company report 'says something different' to ATSBThe ATSB report also said the type of wagons used were "more susceptible to derailment at a critical speed of 36 kilometres per hour, when traversing the track irregularity as existed at the derailment site".
It identified that the track through the area "had an elevated risk for geometry defects" probably due to "poor track formation, ballast quality and the use of steel sleepers, which demand considerable maintenance effort to hold track alignment".
"However, there was no record of the track having been identified as a hazardous location, so it had not attracted greater analysis focus or maintenance attention."
The ATSB said "early detection, assessment and effective management of track defects are critical in minimising the risk of derailment and maintaining safe rail operations".
TasRail's Damian White said he had yet to fully digest the safety investigator's 26-page report, which was publicly released today.
"I haven't read the ATSB report completely. That's certainly one thing I am interested in understanding," he said.
"Our report says something a bit different than that … there's currently some conflicting evidence in that space."
Mr White said costs associated with damage to the track, wagons and freight were "under our insurance cap".
He described TasRail's derailment prevention strategy as "thorough and appropriate" and pointed to the company's recent record.
"TasRail recently achieved a significant milestone of 500 days without a major derailment," Mr White said.
"It is the first time in decades that Tasmania's freight rail has delivered such a result in safety performance."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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