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Low speed derailment near Kimberley
IT'S not exactly a runaway train, but this rail incident was dramatic enough.
IN a remote part of western Tasmania, eight track workers set off in two custom-made vehicles that can travel on roads and railway tracks.
On a steep section of the then-unused West Coast Wilderness Railway near Rinadeena Station, two workers went to investigate a noise under the vehicle. (Rinadeena is the highest point on the tourist rail link from Queenstown to Strahan.)
The driver lifted the rear wheels, but then the truck started to roll backwards.
Despite the handbrake being on, the vehicle began skidding and picked up speed before the engine stalled.
"The driver frantically tried to restart the engine while pushing on the brake pedal and pulling on the handbrake," the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said.
Realising the vehicle was out of control and gathering speed, the driver told the remaining passenger to get out before jumping clear himself.
None of the four men had a radio and there was no phone reception.
One raced to a nearby station building, knowing the out-of-control vehicle was on a collision course with the second truck filled with their work mates.
There was no power at the unmanned station and despite starting a generator, the man couldn't get the radio to work.
Further down the line, those in the second truck saw the vehicle speeding towards them.
Two climbed out but the driver and a backseat passenger remained.
After the crash the driver was trapped for two hours and suffered serious injury, while the second man suffered minor injuries. The driver was airlifted to hospital for further treatment.
The ATSB report found the vehicle was in good condition but lifting the rear wheels from the track had weakened the braking system, which gave way.
As a result of the June 2013 incident, the rail company reviewed its training and safety procedures and efforts are being made to improve radio communications in the area.
This article first appeared on www.dailytelegraph.com.au
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