Speeding train shook passengers 'violently'

SARAH HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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A series of failures which led an Auckland train - with 100 people onboard - to brake suddenly and shake its passengers in a "violent movement", have been condemned.

The incident, which occurred in August 2010, was found by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) to have been a combination of poor communication and a failure to adhere to standard procedures.

The train, travelling from Papakura to Britomart via Westfield, was being followed by a shunt so that it could enter a rail siding.

However, a miscommunication to the signal box controller meant he got the order of the two trains mixed up, and directed the passenger train down the incorrect route.

The passenger train stopped and exchanged passengers at Panmure but, owing to several delays, it was running behind schedule. This resulted in the driver accelerating away from the station with the intention of reaching full speed.

The train then rounded a bend and, despite twice braking heavily, crossed lines on to the wrong route at nearly twice the maximum speed limit.

"The passenger train reacted violently as it went through the cross-over to the other line, but did not roll over or derail. None of the people on board was injured, but some were shaken by the violent movement of the train," the report said.

As the train driver brought the engine to a stop he narrowly avoided striking a track worker who was walking down the line with his back to the train.

"The driver of the passenger train was also shaken by his experience."

But after a short pause he carried on past signals that required him to stop. He also did not speak to the signal box controller.

TAIC said: "Opportunities for correcting or preventing all of these incidents were lost through substandard levels of crew resource management."

TAIC said a number of safety actions were taken by KiwiRail to address immediate issues around communication after the incidents and as part of the upgrade to the Auckland rail network.

The signal boxes involved in the incident were decommissioned and incorporated into the Wellington National Train Control Centre.

"These safety actions have superseded the need for other safety recommendations."

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- Auckland Now

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