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Thursday, 23 August 1973
Page: 397

Mr Bennett asked the Minister for Transport, upon notice:

(1)   What train derailments have taken place in (a) Western Australia, (b) Victoria, (c) South Australia and (d) New South Wales during each of the years 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973 to date.

(2)   What were the causes of these derailments.

(3)   What action has been taken to prevent further derailments.

(4)   Was track deterioration the cause of any derailment, if so has track reconstruction taken place.

(5)   Have train speed restrictions been implemented in any of the States or by the Commonwealth subsequent to derailments; if so, in what States.

(6)   What train derailments have taken place on Commonwealth Railways track during the years 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973 to date.

(7)   Are train speed restrictions imposed in any of the States because of inadequate track standards; if so, in which of the States does this occur.

Mr Charles Jones - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The number of derailments for the years 1970 to date have been as follows:

(2)   The causes of these derailments are varied and include track defects, vehicle defects and combinations of circumstances and faults both mechanical and human.

(3)   Steps aimed at avoiding a recurrence are taken by all systems. These may include relaying and general upgrading of track, modification of vehicles and improvement in track and vehicle maintenance.

(4)   Track defects were the cause of some derailments on all systems reporting. Immediate action is generally confined to necessary repair work although high incidence of a particular cause of derailment will result in special preventive action, e.g. replacement of W guards on Victorian 4-wheeled vehicles several years ago and relaying of certain branch lines in Victoria where heavy traffic on light rail was causing maintenance problems.

(5)   Speed restrictions are imposed during the time the track is being restored to normal after a derailment. Speed limits are imposed on all track and all vehicles and are set in relation to the importance of the service, the type of construction, the design of the vehicle, and maintenance considerations.

(6)   Derailments on Commonwealth Railways for the year 1970 to date have been as follows:

(7)   Western Australian Railways advise that there are some sections of sub-standard track in Western Australia.

Commonwealth Railways advise that there would be some sections of track below 'standard' condition at a particular time pending resleepering and/ or ballasting.

However with regard to inadequate track standards it must be remembered that what was adequate 20 years ago may not be adequate now and a track inadequate for the amount of traffic now carried on it may still be perfectly safe with the axle loads and train speeds currently prescribed by the operating authority.

All systems match the allowable speed with axle loads and standard of construction.

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