A GRAIN train derailment in October 2017 occurred at a place of “poor track condition”, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has reported.

The incident involved a Pacific National train on the Australian Rail Track Corporation rail network from Nevertire to Manildra in north-western New South Wales.

The train, two locomotives and 23 wagons, was travelling south at Narwonah when eleven loaded grain wagons derailed.

An emergency brake application, due to the uncoupling, brought the front of the train to a standstill.

There were no injuries but, according to the ATSB, there was substantial damage to nine wagons and track.


The ATSB found the derailment occurred at a location with identified poor track condition around a rail joint.

“This, and a short twist defect at the point of mount, contributed to the vertical unloading of wheels on the twelfth wagon in the consist and the subsequent derailment of that wagon and 10 trailing wagons,” the ATSB reported.

“Previously, there were track defects identified near the derailment site.”

The maintenance of defects in this section of track was not, according to the ATSB, successful in preventing the defects from re-occurring.

Much grain was spilled from the carriages. Credit: ATSB

The ATSB also reported the train crew were operating the train at a speed of about 80kmh; in excess of the 60kmh specified by ARTC.

Two of the three wagons were also loaded in excess of the 81tonnes as recorded on the consist and the grain was not loaded evenly in the three wagons.

Following the incident, about 300metres of rail, fasteners and sleepers were replaced and 150metres of new formation was required around the derailment site.

“The incident highlights the importance of ensuring the track is free from any defects and that trains travel at or below the speed specified in the standards,” the ATSB stated.