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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), in collaboration with the Victorian Government’s Chief Investigator, Transport Safety (CITS), is investigating the derailment of the XPT passenger train ST23 near Wallan, Victoria on 20 February 2020.
Recordings from the train indicate an Emergency brake application a short distance before the points. This slowed the train a small amount before it entered the turnout travelling at a speed in excess of 100 km/h. The train was not able to negotiate the turnout to the loop track at this speed and derailed. All vehicles derailed excepting the rear power car.
Train data logger
Both power cars were fitted with a Hasler RT data logger. The data logger is an electromechanical device that records speed, distance, time, a combined power-vigilance parameter, and brake cylinder pressure parameters. These parameters are recorded on a waxed paper tape (roll). The Hasler system also included an analogue speedometer located on the driver’s console.
The train’s speed is derived from the measurement of the rotation of the left hand wheel on the second axle of the power car. In order for this rotation to be translated into distance (and speed), an average wheel diameter is assumed. Actual speed may deviate from that recorded (and displayed) due to differences between this assumed diameter and the diameter of the actual wheel providing the feed to the Hasler system.
The Hasler tapes from the two power cars were recovered at the accident scene and examined by the ATSB. Corrections to the recorded speed were made to account for the differences between the assumed wheel diameter and the actual wheel diameter on each power car. The results from both recorders indicated a speed of about 130 km/h approaching Wallan Loop.
The Hasler analogue speedometer would have read less than this, probably between the 125 km/h and 130 km/h marks.
The data from both recorders indicate that there was an Emergency brake application nearing the turnout to the loop, and an associated small reduction in speed prior to the train entering the loop. The Hasler recordings will be the subject of further detailed analysis and review against other evidence.
Management of rail traffic (safeworking)
Safeworking is an integrated system of operating rules and procedures that defines the interaction between workers and engineered systems for the safe operation of a railway. Of primary concern is safe operations including train separation and speed management according to infrastructure.
Relevant to this occurrence, the signalling infrastructure used for standard-gauge traffic through Wallan was damaged as a result of a fire in a track-side equipment hut on 3 February 2020.
From 6 February, Train Authority Working was established to manage traffic between Home Departure signals DBK6 and DBK18 at Donnybrook24 and KME4 and KME16 at Kilmore East.
The alternative safeworking arrangements permitted only one train in the section between Donnybrook and Kilmore East at any one time, and Wallan Loop was not being used for trains to cross or pass.
The initial report is available at https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/2... however most of the report has been discussed above and the following should be read in conjunction with the full interim report.
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