Driverless freight train deliberately derailed in Tasmania

Driverless freight train deliberately derailed in Tasmania
A driverless train has been deliberately derailed after being unresponsive to controls. Photo via MichaelGaida on Pixabay.

A driverless freight train had to be deliberately derailed when it got out of control, causing two people to be injured by the resulting debris. The accident occurred in September, in central Devonport.

A preliminary report has uncovered that a worker which was loading the freight wagons on the train by remote control could not finish their job due to a failed transmitter. The job was almost finished but the transmitter could not be reset in time.

According to Nat Nagy, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)’s executive director of Transport Safety, the train was being loaded in a Railton rail yard in the morning when it stopped responding.

The investigation by ATSB has discovered that the last two wagons of the train were not aligned with the loading chute. The worker attempted to adjust these wagons through the remote, but it was unresponsive.

The train began its journey before the worker could take any further measures to fix the situation, and did not respond to the emergency commands engaged through removing the power to the transmitter.

This led to the worker making dialing an emergency call to the control centre of TasRail, informing them of the out-of-control freight train.

Using the real-time train performance monitoring system, workers at the control centre were able to observe the train’s movements and help stop pedestrians and vehicles which were near the train’s future path.

The train was eventually rerouted into a dead end on Devonport’s waterfront, and came to a stop around 20 minutes later. However, this caused two individuals to suffer minor injuries, stuck with some debris from the fence the train was rerouted into.

This incident suggests further measures need to be taken with autonomous vehicles. A final report of the situation, following the preliminary report just released, is expected in 2019.