A vital component of a rail safety system is an understanding of the causes of events that have the potential to cause multiple fatalities. This research analyses the causes and consequences of derailments occurring in Victoria, Australia. Between January 2007 and December 2013, Transport Safety Victoria recorded 122 mainline derailments. Passenger trains accounted for 19% of mainline derailments whereas freight trains accounted for 52%. Track maintenance vehicles and locomotives running without wagons or coaches attached accounted for the remaining 29% of derailments. Summary derailment-cause information from 50 investigation reports is presented in this article. Infrastructure defects were determined to be a causal factor in 56% of derailments, operations related factors in 40% of derailments, and rolling stock in 12% of derailments. No cause could be determined in 10% of derailments, whereas some derailment incidents identified more than one cause. The effect of train speed and cause of derailment on consequences in terms of number of vehicles derailed and time of line closure is also presented. Comparison derailment rates and causes in other jurisdictions are provided, and the potential for use of derailment cause analysis in risk modelling is discussed.
Journal of Transportation Safety and Security / Vol. 9, No. 1, pp.45-63