MELBOURNE (Reuters) – An emergency crew called out to manually apply handbrakes to a 268-car iron ore train in the Australian outback mistakenly put the brakes on the wrong train, according to a preliminary report into a runaway train derailment last year.
In the incident last November, the BHP Group ore train had to be deliberately derailed after it reached speeds of 162 km/hour (101 mph), destroying two locomotives, 245 ore cars and 2 km (1.2 miles) of track. No-one was hurt.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said on Tuesday the train, carrying iron ore to Port Hedland in Australia’s remote northeast, came to a halt after it lost communication between the front locomotive and a monitor at the train’s rear.
The driver “applied the independent brake” and exited the cab to manually apply handbrakes to the train’s 268 ore cars, while awaiting assistance from an emergency ground crew, the regulator said in its report.
Another empty train came to a stop on an adjacent track, and 30 minutes later the ground crew arrived and were asked by train control to start applying brakes from the rear of the train and work towards the driver.