Thursday, January 31, 2013

The accident waiting to happen has happened !

Last updated Saturday 2nd February 2013 12:30pm

At 9:40am on Thursday 31st January 2013, a Queensland Rail (QR) train overran the end of the line at Cleveland station, crashing into the station building (the toilets) and injuring approximately 10 people. BrizCommuter's thoughts go out to those involved and affected by this rare accident on Queensland Rail's passenger system. Shockingly, if someone had been in the mens toilets there could have been a fatality. The cause of the crash is yet to be investigated, with two separate investigations taking place.

Unfortunately, this was "the accident waiting to happen" that has happened. In November 2010 BrizCommuter ran a blog post criticising the design of the Ferny Grove station, which has been reconstructed with a similar design to Cleveland with buildings (toilets again) beyond the end of the track. BrizCommuter also gave feedback against this terminus design as part of Ferny Grove station consultation process. This design of terminus banned in the UK due to obvious safety reasons. Sadly, the crash at Cleveland showed why a terminus station should never be built with buildings immediately beyond the end of the tracks. BrizCommuter is also concerned as to why a modern train arrestor device had not been installed at Cleveland to reduce the impact from potential overruns?

In February 2012 BrizCommuter ran a blog post looking at the lack of Automatic Train Protection (ATP) on SE Queensland's train network, with notes on terminus safety. Automatic Train Protection is useful on terminus approaches as it progressively limits the train speed on approach. If the train exceeds the speed limit, the brakes are automatically applied. Of course, as the cause of this particular crash is currently unknown, it cannot be assumed it would have been prevented by ATP.

BrizCommuter will be very interested in the results of the formal investigations, expected in around 1 and 3 months time. In the mean time, BrizCommuter may avoid using the toilets at Ferny Grove!

Update - Friday 1st February 2013 9:00pm

A SMU 260 series train
It has been reported that the Rail Tram and Bus Union has urged it's members to not drive trains similar to the one involved in the Cleveland crash - IMU 160 and SMU 260 series trains. These trains are only a few years old, and were built in Maryborough.

It has been reported in this Courier Mail article that the driver did not report any issues with the train, despite a passenger describing an erratic train ride at Wellington Point and Ormiston in this Bayside Bulletin article. Given that the transport minister has ruled out mechanical failure and slippages, would the union like to publicly state exactly what their concerns are? Is this just a political game, given the LNPs recent anti-union stance? Has the union also told members to immediately report train traction issues, and drive with caution when they have just occurred? Has the union even commented on the urgent need for ATP (which incidentally would pave the way for guard elimination), and safer terminus designs?

If these trains, which make up around a third of QR's passenger fleet are still out of service on Monday, then expect peak period chaos!

Update - 02/02/2013

An overnight hearing resulted in Fair Work Australia ordering train drivers to end their boycott of the IMU 160 and SMU 260 trains. If this occurs, then hopefully SE Queensland's rail network will return to some state of normality next week after 9 days of various disruptions.

Related blog posts:
Queensland Rail's press release:
Photos at BrisbaneTimes:

Please note that whilst the investigations are underway, comments that are speculative on the cause of the crash will not be published. 

Update - 14/03/2012

A blog post on the ATSB report is available below


  1. If these trains were such a safety hazard, why did the union wait until now to raise their concerns? Sounds more like the union is just trying to create trouble, again.

  2. Garvin - precisely. If there were already concerns, then by only escalating concerns after a crash has already occurred makes the union look a bit silly.

  3. Update on this matter:


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