Locos derail after crashing into train

TWO locomotives sent to rescue a stalled train near Singleton yesterday crashed into the stationary train, derailing themselves and the last carriage of the coal train.

Passenger trains from Scone were delayed by at least half an hour yesterday afternoon and coal trains were unable to service any mine beyond Whittingham junction, south of Singleton.

No injuries were reported.

Rail authorities have begun investigating the crash, the second on the Hunter coal rail network in eight weeks.

The earlier accident, on Kooragang Island on June 26, also involved a moving Pacific National train hitting a stationary one.

Yesterday’s accident was at Nundal Bank, one of the steepest sections of the Hunter network, about 10 kilometres north-west of Singleton.

A spokeswoman for coal rail company Pacific National said three locomotives pulling 92 carriages of coal from Liddell mine failed on Nundah Bank about 12.55pm.

‘‘Two light engine locomotives were deployed to assist in the recovery, however on approaching the coal train from behind they ran into the rear of the train,’’ she said.

‘‘There are no injuries reported, however, the crews have been relieved.

‘‘The trains are still onsite and the recovery is being assessed.’’

The Australian Rail Track Corporation, which operates the tracks for the federal government, said the rescue locomotives and the last wagon of the coal train were derailed.

A spokesman for the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Co-ordinator, which oversees the movement of coal to the Port of Newcastle, was hoping the tracks would be reopened overnight.

‘‘Temporary mitigation options are being considered, including increasing throughput from other load points,’’ he said.

The state government’s Independent Transport Safety Regulator said it and the Office of Transport Safety Investigations had been told of the accident.

‘‘Both Pacific National and ARTC are investigating the incident and we will be following up with them to determine whether any action is required,’’ a regulator spokeswoman said.

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