Friday, July 26, 2013

Spanish Train Crash - could a similar accident occur in Brisbane?

The recent train crash in Spain was quite horrific, with 78 passengers killed, and almost all passengers injured. The crash allegedly occurred due to the train speeding at 190kph, more than double that 80kph speed limit. Automatic Train Protection (ATP) could have prevented this crash by enforcing a speed limit, but this was either not installed, or not activated on this train (UPDATE - ATP was not installed on this non-high speed track section). Similar accidents caused by trains going around bends too quickly have also occurred in Amagasaki, Japan in 2005 (107 deaths), on the Queensland Tilt Train in 2004, and also the infamous Camp Mountain crash between Ferny Grove and Samford in 1947 (16 deaths).

Could a similar crash occur on SE Queensland's rail network?

The answer is yes, but at lower speed as most of SE Queensland's rail network is below approx. 100kph speed limit. SE Queensland's rail network is riddled with very sharp bends with low speed limits - for example 14% of the Ferny Grove Line has speed limits of 60kph or lower due to sharp curves. The narrow gauge of Queensland's railways does not help, as trains are less stable on curves compared to wider track gauges. There is still no ATP on SE Queensland's rail network (parts of Sunshine Coast Line excepted) to enforce speed limits around these sharp bends. Thus driving to the speed limit is entirely down to train driver judgement. Whilst Queensland Rail and it's drivers have a very good safety record, it only takes one driver's inattention to kill dozens of passengers. The continuing lack of ATP (due to delays in implementing ERTMS - Level 2 signalling) on Brisbane's rail network is an accident waiting to happen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are reviewed before being published, and it may take a few days for comments to appear. If comments do not add to the conversation, or are just plain stupid, they will not be published.