BHP derails runaway iron ore train

 
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

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  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
That will rip someone's nightie.
Adjourn for a couple of years for an ATSB report.
  ANR Assistant Commissioner

Don't these things have a hand brake?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Trapped in a meeting with Rhonda and Karsten
I see that BHP is still playing catch-up with Rio's AutoHaul project... 94km without a driver and no accidents is a good effort Laughing
  DBclass Chief Commissioner

Location: Western Australia
Strange to think the whole train has electric brakes but they can’t be operated from off the train?
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Latest from the ATSB

https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/2018/rair/ro-2018-018/
Sulla1
They're off to a good start - can't even spell 'Hedland'.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Strange to think the whole train has electric brakes but they can’t be operated from off the train?
DBclass
Do we actually know that this was an ECP braked train?

ECP = electronically controlled pneumatic

Whatever brakes the Tasmanian cement train had could not, apparently, be operated from off the train. ....................

Bit of a dinosaur myself in believing in drivers (two) actually driving the train from the footplate.

There is/was a detailed BHP chart of the number of handbrakes to be applied depending upon the grade should the driver need to leave the loco but in practice a pretty diabolical situation to be in perhaps applying (and releasing) 100 handbrakes in between heat stress and fighting off snakes etc whilst walking a couple of km in the process..
  DBclass Chief Commissioner

Location: Western Australia
I am under the presumption that all trains are ECP ones up there, as they seem to handle so much better.

While in Newman a few months ago a train was parked up for the day, with locos running. My guess was to keep the brakes charged. Saves having to apply handbrakes I suppose.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

While in Newman a few months ago a train was parked up for the day, with locos running. My guess was to keep the brakes charged. Saves having to apply handbrakes I suppose.
DBclass
A loco may also be kept idling for a period if:
  • the fuel is cheaper than the wear and tear inflicted by a shutdown and cold start, or
  • the period of the delay is unknown and it may need to be moved at short notice, or
  • if the loco is known to have reliability issues associated with a cold start.

Handbrakes may be used as well, if required by the operator's safeworking rules. It would be hoped that operators around the world would have reviewed their procedures regarding securing of unattended trains, and upgraded them if necessary, after the 2013 Lac-Mégantic disaster
  ANR Assistant Commissioner

So is the cost of this one single accident more than the cost of employing extra crew? What is someone was killed?
  DBclass Chief Commissioner

Location: Western Australia
During tipping of the ore wagons at Port Hedland, the locos shut down automatically, and restart when required in about a minute.
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
So is the cost of this one single accident more than the cost of employing extra crew? What is someone was killed?
ANR
If someone was killed, they'll pay out the estate and move on. Unfortunately, many businesses think the cost of a fatality is cheaper than paying extra employees - and they're right, unless you're that dead employee or their family. For example, the US FAA values a human life at $9.6M USD, so roughly $15M AUD. Given the average BHP Driver likely costs the company a bit more than $200K with leave, payroll taxes, superannuation, actual salary, etc, you can see reducing staff to the bare minimum makes a lot of sense, if they got rid of more than 75 driver's they're ahead.

Don't these things have a hand brake?
ANR
OF course they do, but the train needs to be stopped to apply the handbrake. At most employers, it is all-but a sacking offence to try to tie down a runaway wagon. For a runaway train, particularly one of this size, all you can do is get out of its' way. There's also no need to apply handbrakes for a simple wagon inspection, provided you have sufficiently applied the trainbrake to secure the train. I have had a couple of instances of stopping on a grade and reducing the ECP brake percentage to 10%, the train sat there quite happily for over 30 minutes, then commenced creeping downhill again. A further 15% stopped it immediately - and I wonder if something similar has happened here...

For those uninformed commentators in the media screaming about "the deadman switch failing", it is usually only the suburbans that have an actual 'deadman switch', that will apply the brakes if not held 'just so'. Freighters typically only have a vigilance system that requires an acknowledgement every 30-45 seconds or the brakes come on. However, this system is inhibited when you have more than 200kpa in the independent brake, to stop it going off every time the train is stopped. So in this instance, with the train stopped to check a wagon, the independent application would have suppressed the vigilance system.

EDIT: Just found the ABC is claiming the train was travelling "at more than 200kph". Shocked
  M636C Minister for Railways

Why blame the ABC for a claimed speed when BHP appear to have provided a photo from fourteen years ago.
We can be absolutely certain that the train was not hauled by a Dash 8 and two SD40s, and that it had no original Comeng ore cars (cars 1, 5 and subsequent in the photo...) I myself saw the Dash 8s being cut up in 2015.

The train would have had ECP brakes.

From memory, 211 km is in the Chichester Ranges. I assume Turner siding (not that there are sidings any more) is near the Turner River (I have a track diagram, just not with me). One reason that the train was let run that far is that south of the Turner river there are bridges for FMG (two) and Roy Hill (one) lines to cross the BHP line. You probably don't want to take out a competitors line or there would be a picnic for QCs that would make a Royal Commission look minor.

Remember that these trains are not (yet anyway) equipped for remote operation, even though the Train Controllers are in Perth.

Peter
  ANR Assistant Commissioner

Is it conceivable that such a heavy train can reach 200kph? How do you stop it apart from forcing it off the tracks?

With nobody behind the controls, and nobody holding a speed gun, how did the ABC journo arrive at that conclusion?

If left to its own devices, how fast can one of these locos self accelerate?

Maybe this is the VFT that the nation has been wanting.

Why did it take so many kilometers to derail the train? Did the driver leave his radio in the cab and have to find a distant Telstra telephone booth?
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
Is it conceivable that such a heavy train can reach 200kph?
ANR
Certainly. Depending on the grade and curvature, you could likely get well above it on tangent track.

How do you stop it apart from forcing it off the tracks?
ANR
Pray it stops on an uphill grade? Get a quad in front of it and try dynamic brakes?

With nobody behind the controls, and nobody holding a speed gun, how did the ABC journo arrive at that conclusion?
ANR
Probably the same way they come up with most oftheir data. Pulled it out of their asre. Though they've now updated it to "An average speed of 110kph" Rolling Eyes

If left to its own devices, how fast can one of these locos self accelerate?
ANR
Too open ended a question, it depends on power available (traction or just gravity), load and grade. Though a single AC will pin you to the back wall when it loads up if you sweep the throttle to 8N. Cool

Why did it take so many kilometers to derail the train?
ANR
Probably trying to work out if they could do it without derailing it, to minimise damage and downtime.

Did the driver leave his radio in the cab and have to find a distant Telstra telephone booth?
ANR
Unlikely. DOO working requires a working radio when out of the cab. You need to advise the Controller as to what you found with the crook wagon, and if you are injured need to summon assistance.
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
Wouldn't have happened if it was driverless.

Nah wait a minute I think I'm confused Razz
  RTT_Rules Dr Beeching

Location: Dubai UAE
Have to wonder what was the final straw that forced them to turn a $20M train into a pile of scrap metal?
  TheMeddlingMonk Deputy Commissioner

Location: The Time Vortex near Melbourne, Australia
Have to wonder what was the final straw that forced them to turn a $20M train into a pile of scrap metal?
RTT_Rules
I suspect it would be more than $30 million for the train (268 wagons at over $100k a piece, not to mention the four locos).

They obviously couldn't risk it running uncontrolled into port; perhaps the 119km mark was the best point to derail it (once they had decided on that course of action).
  574M White Guru

Location: Shepparton
Well, the ABC now has mobile phone vid and photos
(and they have edited the train speed to 100kph)

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-11-06/investigators-visit-runaway-bhp-iron-ore-train-derailment-site/
  TheMeddlingMonk Deputy Commissioner

Location: The Time Vortex near Melbourne, Australia
Based on that footage, it was certainly moving at high speed when it derailed. Looks like the whole front half of the train has piled up.
  bramt Deputy Commissioner

I count 27 wagons still on the track (from the helicopter footage). Meaning there's 241 wagons squashed into a pile that appears shorter than the remaining wagons are long (a compression rate of 10:1!).

Was there a loop siding at this location, and the points were simply changed for the diverge? If so, how could they be sure the train was travelling fast enough to derail rather than just moving into the loop?
Or were the points changed under the train, causing it to split them?
  Marbelup Station Master

Location: Perth, Western Australia
The signalling interlocking would prevent points being moved under a train or in front of an approaching train. It would not be possible to remotely override the interlocking logic.
  F4PhantomRAAF Locomotive Driver

Don't these things have a hand brake?
ANR

Yes of course they do. Wagons (Ore Cars) and Locomotives.

This is my theory of what actually happened and I believe it will be confirmed very shortly.

On Sunday 4th November at 4am, a driver of a loaded Port Hedland bound Iron Ore train has got off the train to inspect a wagon, according to news reports. The train, without a driver, then ran away and travelled 92km without a driver and was derailed by having points set into a loop. https://thewest.com.au/business/mining/bhp-derails-268-car-pilbara-train-which-travelled-92km-without-driver-ng-b881012020z

The points routed the train off the main line and as it was above authorized speed the train derailed. Points are to be taken at reduced speed.

What has happened is a theory described below and is highly accurate. But due to the company not offering information it will not be able to be confirmed exactly until a public release of a Rail regulator/ATSB report.

In Australia it is called the 'Vigilance System' (but Deadman's Button/Switch etc is a known term used in other countries), and it operates with brakes off. Technically it should have applied the brakes if the train was moving. But if the locomotive brakes were fully on and the hill is steep enough then it would move. The locomotives brakes automatically isolate the vigilance system as long as they are fully on.

One theory is the train was on the Port Hedland side of the hill and was not balanced (with half on the mine/Newman side) and thus ran away.

Of all accidents human error is to blame for at least 85% of the time.

Locomotives can be idling and vigilance will still work. It is the brakes that dictate. Both train and locomotibe brakes can isolate the vigilance. Even if the train is moving the vigilance won't activate. As far as I know anyway. To me the solution is easy. When off the locomotive the Driver should take a reverser handle (or press a button) to activate a movement alarm automatically applying the brakes.


The company that manufactures the locomotives and the company manufacturing the braking systems should incorporate this into their safety systems.



To make it completely failsafe, the Reverser would unlock the door of the cab of the locomotive so drivers do not 'forget' taking the reverser.


Note: Even if ECP braking is being used by BHP Billiton, it doesn't change the facts and it is practically the same operation for applying the brakes.


References: https://www.perthnow.com.au/business/mining/bhp-train-derailment-mining-giant-could-lose-55-million-a-day-ng-b881014165z

https://thewest.com.au/business/mining/bhp-derails-268-car-pilbara-train-which-travelled-92km-without-driver-ng-b881012020z
  F4PhantomRAAF Locomotive Driver

Is it conceivable that such a heavy train can reach 200kph?
Certainly. Depending on the grade and curvature, you could likely get well above it on tangent track.

How do you stop it apart from forcing it off the tracks?
Pray it stops on an uphill grade? Get a quad in front of it and try dynamic brakes?

With nobody behind the controls, and nobody holding a speed gun, how did the ABC journo arrive at that conclusion?
Probably the same way they come up with most oftheir data. Pulled it out of their asre. Though they've now updated it to "An average speed of 110kph" Rolling Eyes

If left to its own devices, how fast can one of these locos self accelerate?
Too open ended a question, it depends on power available (traction or just gravity), load and grade. Though a single AC will pin you to the back wall when it loads up if you sweep the throttle to 8N. Cool

Why did it take so many kilometers to derail the train?
Probably trying to work out if they could do it without derailing it, to minimise damage and downtime.

Did the driver leave his radio in the cab and have to find a distant Telstra telephone booth?
Unlikely. DOO working requires a working radio when out of the cab. You need to advise the Controller as to what you found with the crook wagon, and if you are injured need to summon assistance.
KRviator

The down hill run from Newman to Port Hedland is long and steep and calculating the time it took to travel 92 km it certainly would have reached high speed.

In the US Cajon Pass has had runaways and they reached blistering high speeds.

The lower grades I am familiar with it is very easy to reach 100kph in a matter of kilometres and less steeper grades.

The derailment would be evidence that the train was doing a reasonably high speed. It would be doing at least 70-80kph if the turnout is rated at 50kph.

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