Acid Train Derailment near Julia Creek

 

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  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
What a mess.  Looking only at the video, looks like a track washout might be a possible cause?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Heavy monsoonal rain and flooding in the region. A single 2800 hauling 26 loaded OSZY sulphuric acid tankers from Sun Metals (Townsville) and Phosphate Hill. Locomotive and all tankers on their sides.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Heavy monsoonal rain and flooding in the region. A single 2800 hauling 26 loaded OSZY sulphuric acid tankers from Sun Metals (Townsville) and Phosphate Hill. Locomotive and all tankers on their sides.
Sulla1
200,000L *1.84 SG = 368t or 14t/wagon. Seems a bit light?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

OSZYs are rated to carry 32,000 litres. They run in fixed thirteen wagon sets, so I guess it's possible the amount of acid involved has been under-reported. Still no word on any wagons rupturing, no photos I've seen indicate any tank failures so hopefully very little acid has been split.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
The photos in the ABC News report would appear to indicate that the loco and many wagons had crossed a substantial washout!
  Expost Deputy Commissioner

The photos in the ABC News report would appear to indicate that the loco and many wagons had crossed a substantial washout!
Graham4405
Or the new obstructions to the water flow (derailed wagons) have created new eddys/ flows, ect, that have further widened the erosion of the corridor in the immediate vicinity.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
The photos in the ABC News report would appear to indicate that the loco and many wagons had crossed a substantial washout!
Or the new obstructions to the water flow (derailed wagons) have created new eddys/ flows, ect, that have further widened the erosion of the corridor in the immediate vicinity.
Expost
Possibly, but the rails are not where they should be...
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Washaways are a hazard that seem to require greater attention with the transition from localised Track Gangs at line locations to mechanical/cyclic track maintenance by gangs from more major locations that are often far away.
The local gangs who knew their length intimately were also in a position to report rainfall and stream flows. They were also in a position to run their length immediately prior to train movements.
In recent years there have been a number of derailments on the Trans-Australian and Central Australia Railways due to washaways which may well have been prevented or the results mitigated with greater attention to rainfall in the area and the resultant potential for washaways.
  Gaz170 Junior Train Controller

Location: Gold Coast
Just heard a report on ABC News.  31,500 litres spilt (possibly 1 wagon?).

3 crew initially hospitalised, 2 now released and other one due to be released today or tomorrow.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Washaways are a hazard that seem to require greater attention with the transition from localised Track Gangs at line locations to mechanical/cyclic track maintenance by gangs from more major locations that are often far away.
The local gangs who knew their length intimately were also in a position to report rainfall and stream flows. They were also in a position to run their length immediately prior to train movements.
In recent years there have been a number of derailments on the Trans-Australian and Central Australia Railways due to washaways which may well have been prevented or the results mitigated with greater attention to rainfall in the area and the resultant potential for washaways.
YM-Mundrabilla
I believe the situation is fairly complex. The track had been inspected a few hours earlier and more inspections were to be carried out that day. For those who haven't experience monsoonal rain, very intense localised downpours can occur within more general rain bands - which may miss weather monitoring stations. At my house last night I had 96mm, while the BOM station five kilometres away registered 48mm. I'm sure all will be revealed in the official report, but the section in question was being monitored by QR staff in the lead up to the derailment.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
With continously welded rail, is there any way of using any sort of automated means to detect track issues? Eg with electric currents?
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
With continously welded rail, is there any way of using any sort of automated means to detect track issues? Eg with electric currents?
james.au
The issue with using track circuits to detect displaced track is unless there is a broken rail (possible, but unlikely), there is no assurance the formation is intact. There have been several incidents whereby the track was damaged, but the track circuits remained intact, giving the impression all is well. It is a double-edged sword.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

With continously welded rail, is there any way of using any sort of automated means to detect track issues? Eg with electric currents?
james.au
Track circuit detection would only work if the rail is broken...long lengths of rail can be left suspended in the air without breaking a circuit. QR has been putting in flood and waterflow measuring equipment at regular trouble spots (or where a washout has caused a derailment) in recent years - no doubt this location will get sensors now. The area around Julia Creek is the basin for the former Inland Sea and pretty much functions like a 200km flood plain, it's always been a difficult operating environment since rails were first laid across it.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
With continously welded rail, is there any way of using any sort of automated means to detect track issues? Eg with electric currents?
james.au
Not to my knowledge. Detection of a broken rail is not even certain in track circuited areas. The areas we are speaking of here may well be 500 km and more from anywhere.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Latest news report, including the revised amount of acid the train was carrying (819,000 litres)


http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/news/long-clean-up-ahead-after-train-derailment/story-fnjfzs4b-1227691114597
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Yep, i had thought of track being intact but the formation being destroyed, though was leaving it open to the floor to see if there was a workaround.  Seems not unfortunately.....
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
The only workaround is people on the ground and that aint going to happen.
  Lockspike Deputy Commissioner

With continously welded rail, is there any way of using any sort of automated means to detect track issues? Eg with electric currents?
james.au
An open circuit or a short circuit will cause a track circuit to 'drop out', which is highly desirable when indicating the presence of a train. However, our much debated topic of mud holes can also cause a track circuit to drop out, or even just wet track. Signal electricians can experience difficulty achieving correct track circuit impedance so that wet track (especially if there is a lot of 'fines' in the ballast) is ignored, but a train is detected. It would be great if flooded track could be detected over merely wet track.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Thanks for the answers guys.

Another one for you - what sort of driver protection in trains exists.  Seat belts?  Air bags?? (unlikely id think).  If it was a washout, for a loco to end up on its side like it has, there must be a fair jolt.  One of the drivers is still in hospital too.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The biggest issue with a pure Sulfuric spill is usually the dilution as there is a huge amount of heat evolved, however as it was a flood, this issue should be resolved with massive dilution.

For humans and mother nature, the acid itself bothersom as it will dissolve you, but normally does not release toxic gases unless the reaction releases SO2. Clean up in this case would be to dump lime and/or limestone in the river, however as the area is in flood I'm thinking it maybe a pointless exercise unless the spilit acid was contained. Its a pretty strong acid so there will need to be a huge amount of dilution before the fish are not harmed.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
for a loco to end up on its side like it has, there must be a fair jolt.  
james.au
hence why they went to hospital.

Trains are far less likely to be in a collision or derailment than road based traffic and generally most smaller things they hit the law of tonnage protects the driver(s). However if the tonnage is reversed then no airbag is going to protect the driver from another say 120t loco at 100km/hr.
  Expost Deputy Commissioner

I have chatted with one of the drivers involved on FB, and he is pretty happy to have got out of it fairly lightly. In his words, God was looking down on us, and he did good.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
With continously welded rail, is there any way of using any sort of automated means to detect track issues? Eg with electric currents?
An open circuit or a short circuit will cause a track circuit to 'drop out', which is highly desirable when indicating the presence of a train. However, our much debated topic of mud holes can also cause a track circuit to drop out, or even just wet track. Signal electricians can experience difficulty achieving correct track circuit impedance so that wet track (especially if there is a lot of 'fines' in the ballast) is ignored, but a train is detected. It would be great if flooded track could be detected over merely wet track.
Lockspike
Most of the country of which we speak is not track circuited and in any case the water does not have to reach rail level to cause a washaway.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
And how many photos have we all seen of rails dangling in the air after the ground, ballast or bridge has been washed away, sometimes decades later.

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