Archive for November, 2008

Cardwell Train Derailment

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Tilt train crash blamed on faulty signals

Witnesses claimed the signals were not operating properly after a severe storm swept through the area hours before the train carrying 81 people slammed into the semi-trailer at an innocuous crossing over the Bruce Highway at about 2.50pm.

Two train drivers – Richard Weathrell, 54, and a man whose name has not been released – were killed and a number of passengers were injured in the collision, which snapped the truck from its trailer.

The train engine also rolled and twisted but the carriages remained upright.

Emergency crews that arrived on the scene were amazed that so many passengers and the truck driver escaped serious injury.

The crash is the latest in a string of safety problems that have plagued the iconic Tilt Train since its introduction in 1998. and there is now renewed concern over QR’s safety record.

The train was travelling from Brisbane to Cairns yesterday when tragedy struck about 30km south of Cardwell, where the train line crosses the Bruce Highway.

A witness travelling behind the truck last night told The Courier-Mail that flashing lights at the crossing were not working.

Marine Hotel owner Margaret Power said all power had been cut to Cardwell after an electrical storm passed south of the town about 1pm.

“We’ve got two train lines here that we have to cross over here from Cardwell to get to Ingham,” Ms Power said.

“The first lights were working and the trucks all crossed over and then when they got down to this one it wasn’t working.

“The truck driver’s just gone into the train.

“No lights were working.”

Queensland Rail would not comment on whether the lights failed at the time of the collision.

In Parliament last night, Transport Minister John Mickel extended his sympathies to the families of the dead men.

“I want them (the families of the victims) to draw strength from the fact that every honourable Member in this house is thinking of them in their difficult time of unimaginable grief,” he said.

Mr Mickel pledged that there would be a thorough and independent investigation into the tragedy.

“We are also doing whatever we can to assist and expedite the investigation into the cause and circumstances of this accident,” he said.

The crash comes almost four years to the day that 120 passengers were injured when a speeding Tilt Train derailed at Rosedale, 60km north of Bundaberg.

In the aftermath of yesterday’s crash, paramedics set up an emergency triage to cope with the wounded passengers.

Truckies, have your say!