Coal train derailed to avoid level crossing

THREE workers were stood down after a Pacific National coal train had to be derailed in Carrington to stop it running onto a suburban level crossing.

Rail Tram and Bus Union organiser Steve Wright said the empty train was being shunted - in reverse - for storage when it was wrongly put onto a track heading towards a level crossing over Robertson Street, Carrington.

Just before it reached the crossing, the train passed a "catch point", which Mr Wright said was a trackside device designed to deliberately derail trains to stop them causing public danger.

The end wagon jack-knifed at right angles to the track and was almost on its side when the train came to rest.

The next three or four wagons were partly derailed.

The accident, on December 22, was the latest in a series of derailments involving the biggest rail company in the NSW coal industry.

A spokeswoman for Pacific National said the Office of Transport Safety Investigations was investigating the latest accident.

A spokeswoman for the Independent Transport Safety Regulator said the organisation was waiting for a report on the accident.

She said investigations were continuing into Pacific National derailments at Kooragang, Carrington and Nundah Bank near Singleton between June and August last year.

Mr Wright said the company had stood down three shunters after the incident.

He said the train was being driven by a trainee driver who had a "mentor" in the cabin, but it was not the driver's fault that a set of points had been set wrongly, putting the train on the wrong track.

Pacific National was unable to comment beyond confirming the incident, but Mr Wright said the union believed more training was needed.

He said the accident could have been worse had the wagons been full, and it was lucky they were derailed near a crane company, which was able to put the wagons quickly back on the track.

He said the need to keep the coal chain running put pressure on people to work quickly.

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