Rail rule change to follow drama

THE emergency braking of a freight train at a Springhurst work site earlier this year has prompted the Australian Rail Track Corporation to review safety steps.

Warning measures around track work sites will be reassessed after a freight train was involved in an incident on March 6 which saw it fail to stop at a flagman on the east track of the Sydney to Melbourne railway line.

The corporation’s move is in response to an investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau which stressed the need for “local factors such as grade and sighting of flagman” to be considered when setting work sites.

A flagman closest to the Springhurst work site was at the centre of the March incident which involved an 18-wagon-long freight train, measuring 635 metres, travelling from Sydney to Melbourne.

It was 1.45pm when the Pacific National super- freighter, known as 5SM2, was initially made aware of the work by a worker waving a yellow flag ind-icating the train should stop at an inner flagman.

“Three audible track warning signals had been placed 10 metres apart on the track by the outer flagman and as 5SM2 went over the alarms, the train crew sounded the horn and started to manage the train in anticipation of stopping at the inner flagman protecting the worksite 2000 metres ahead,” the report stated.

“After 5SM2 had travelled a further 1100 metres, the train crew observed the inner flagman and realised they could not stop in time.

“The driver made an emergency brake application and the train came to a stop about 100 metres beyond the flagman.”

The incident was not immediately reported as is required under transport regulations, but the track corporation has vowed to take safety measures.

They include reviewing the placement of inner and outer warnings for train crews approaching work sites and examining rules in other jurisdictions to ensure there are similar measures across Australia.

The corporation will also reinforce the need for ballast workers to immediately report incidents.