Quick-thinking staff halt runaway freight train at Unanderra

A freight train in the Port Kembla outer harbour area on Sunday morning. The Mercury is not suggesting this was the runaway train. Picture: Sylvia Liber
A freight train in the Port Kembla outer harbour area on Sunday morning. The Mercury is not suggesting this was the runaway train. Picture: Sylvia Liber

Railway staff had to act quickly to halt a runaway train as it hurtled towards Unanderra on Saturday. 

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating the incident, which involved a 40-wagon freight train travelling on the Moss Vale to Unanderra line.

The alarm was raised just before 1pm, when the privately-owned train, carrying grain, reported braking issues at Dombarton.

Sydney Trains’ Rail Management Centre was alerted to the problem and staff acted quickly to divert the train to an uphill siding yard.

“Sydney Trains’ signallers stopped all other nearby freight and rail services, and diverted the train to a siding yard at Unanderra, where it was able to safely stop,”  a spokeswoman for Sydney Trains said.

“The freight train was then able to proceed to Inner Harbour [at Port Kembla] without further incident.” 

“Initial reports indicate there has been no damage to any infrastructure and no-one injured due to this incident.”

The spokeswoman confirmed the train was privately owned and said it was travelling on Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) tracks at the time of the incident.

Sydney Trains' signallers stopped all other nearby freight and rail services, and diverted the train to a siding yard at Unanderra, where it was able to safely stop.

Sydney Trains spokeswoman

An ARTC spokesman confirmed the incident happened on the Moss Vale-Unanderra Line about 12.50pm and said it involved a 40-wagon grain train. 

“The incident has been reported to the relevant rail safety regulators ... who will be investigating. ARTC will also investigate the incident,” the spokesman said.

The Office of Transport Safety Investigations (OTSI) – an independent statutory body that reports to the NSW Minister for Transport – has also been notified. 

The Mercury also asked Sydney Trains and the ARTC questions about how fast the freight train was travelling at the time and how far it travelled with brake problems.

The questions were unable to be answered, given the incident is now at the centre of a multi-agency investigation.

“Details such as the train speed ... are subject to the relevant investigations,” the ARTC spokesman said.