Coal train derailed in a 20 km/h restricted speed zone on the Sandy Hollow-Gulgong line, says Australian Transport Safety Bureau

SCENE: A wagon of the coal train that derailed next to another stationary train.
SCENE: A wagon of the coal train that derailed next to another stationary train.

A COAL train that derailed in the Upper Hunter this week was travelling through a section of track under a temporary speed restriction of 20 km/h, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says.

The train derailed on the Sandy Hollow-Gulgong rail line at Baerami, near Muswellbrook, early on Wednesday morning.

No one was injured in the incident but six laden wagons came off the tracks and and damaged more than 1.7km of the line, which has been closed since.

Following an on-site investigation, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau posted an initial summary of the incident.

“At approximately 03.25 AEDT, Pacific National coal train MR280 travelling towards Newcastle derailed as it was travelling through a section of the [Australian Rail Track Corporation] network that was under a temporary speed restriction of 20km/h,” the ATSB said in the summary. 

“The speed restriction was imposed in order to mitigate risk due to a measured series of defects in the track.” 

The ATSB did not specify what the series of track defects were, likewise the ARTC which operates the line.

“The last six wagons of the loaded train derailed and came to rest adjacent to a stationary train which was in a crossing loop at Baerami,” the ATSB said. 

“Damage was found spanning approximately two kilometres of track in the down direction from the point of rest.”

A track engineering report, locomotive data-logger information and train crew interviews will form part of the ATSB investigation.

A final report will be released later this year.

Should a critical safety issue be identified in the interim, the ATSB will immediately notify those affected and seek safety action to address the issue.

The Australian Rail Track Corporation said in an update issued on Friday afternoon work to repair the line would begin at the weekend. 

“The six wagons have now been removed from the rail corridor,” an ARTC spokesperson.  

“The clean-up of coal is underway.

“Supplies for repair are arriving and repairs initiating as planned.

“ARTC has taken the opportunity to repair and improve the condition to the level crossing at Rosemount Road, Denman and motorists are reminded there are detours in place via the Golden Highway.”