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Uneven load blamed for derailment

Wednesday, 6th November, 2013

This shot of the wagon after it derailed shows the uneven load. This shot of the wagon after it derailed shows the uneven load.

By Andrew Robertson

An uneven load caused a ballast train derailment which prevented the Indian Pacific from making a stopover in Broken Hill last year.

The accident happened just after 4am on April 11 shortly after the 34-wagon ballast train left Broken Hill and headed east towards Parkes.

According to a report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the train was travelling over the Menindee Road level crossing when the crew noticed “dust and sparks” coming from the rear section of the train. 

Both bogies of the 26th wagon had derailed, causing a four-kilometre stretch of track to be damaged.

An investigation by the bureau found the wagon’s discharge doors had been left open when it was being loaded which meant the wagon was only partially filled. 

This unbalanced load caused the wagon to derail.

The bureau’s report said a front-end loader had filled the wagons at a siding in Broken Hill the previous day, and on the morning of the accident the train’s crew discovered the door of the wagon was open.

“The train crew believed that due to the small amount of ballast that had been dropped, the load in the wagon would be relatively full and still evenly loaded,” the report said.

It said the crew was unable to check inside the wagon because there were no safe vantage points to inspect the train from above. There was also no external lighting at the siding.

“To ensure wagons are evenly loaded, the rail operator’s procedure for checking the load distribution need to be followed and carried out to the required standard,” the report said.

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