Thursday 18th Aug, 2022

Cement train forced to derail in Tasmania

Photo: TasRail

Tasmanian freight rail operator TasRail has confirmed it was forced to derail a runaway train north of Devonport on Friday, in an incident which left two bystanders with minor injuries.

A train being loaded with cement and operated via remote control departed without any command from its operator, just before 9am on September 21, according to a preliminary report from the federal safety bureau.

TasRail’s Network Control Centre soon alerted Tasmania Police to the incident.

TasRail then diverted the train to a dead end siding track with a permanent derailer.

Roughly 12 minutes after the train’s journey began, it arrived at the stops in the yard, and one locomotive and seven wagons were derailed.

Tasmania Police said the train derailed on Formby Road, opposite the Post Office, roughly 100 metres from the Harbour Master Café.

Two members of the public standing nearby sustained injuries. Both were discharged from hospital later that day.

TasRail says it immediately suspended use of the remote control hand-held technology at its freight terminals following the incident, but noted it has been using the technology for more than 15 years.

It will wait until the results of investigations by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and National Rail Regulator before reconsidering its use of the devices.

Crews worked over the weekend, and TasRail said on Sunday afternoon (September 23) it expected to see the mainline through Devonport re-opened overnight.

TasRail chief executive officer Steven Dietrich paid tribute to all involved in the recovery operations, noting they had worked under stressful and challenging conditions to empty wagons, lift wagons with a crane, focus on track repairs and liaise with customers.

“I thank every single TasRail employee who has contributed to this recovery operation and also recognise the patience of our important customers as services are being restored,” Dietrich said on Sunday.

“From the moment we were alerted to this incident, it has been a huge team effort across all terminals and on site in Devonport to activate and implement our Emergency Response Protocol.”

Dietrich also gave his sincere thanks to Tasmania Police, and emergency personnel who treated the two injured bystanders.

“I have today again spoke to the people who were injured and I am delighted to hear they are recovering well,” Dietrich said. “I again expressed TasRail’s thoughts and best wishes for a speedy recovery.”