An Office of Transport Safety Investigation has found a runaway grain train was likely overloaded before it hit speeds of 100km/h.
On Tuesday, 15 December 2020 at 0454, the crew of Qube loaded grain train 3966, consisting of 41 wagons and two CM class locomotives, reported a runaway on the descent of the Moss Vale to Unanderra rail line.
The train reached speeds up to 100 km/h on a 30 km/h section of track before it derailed.
The investigation identified that ineffective braking caused by several factors contributed to the runaway.
The ineffective application of train braking systems was influenced by a heavily loaded train with some overloaded wagons.
The reports also noted the driver’s operation of the train and braking actions did not always conform to the operator (Qube)’s instructions, and it is likely some of the driver’s decisions on the morning of the accident were affected by fatigue.
A Safety Advisory Notice was issued by the Office of Transport Safety Investigations (OTSI) in collaboration with the ATSB to the rail industry to raise awareness of variable locomotive braking system configurations on locomotives across Australia.
Qube and other affected rollingstock operators took immediate actions to review their locomotive configurations, to ensure their locomotive drivers had a clear understanding of the braking systems on the locomotives they were operating.