Runaway Mining Train Travels 90 Kilometers Without Driver In Australia

Lloyd Doyle
November 7, 2018

BHP has suspended its train operations.

Mining giant BHP, which owns the four-locomotive train, chose to derail before it reached the town of Port Hedland near its Western Australia Pilbara site, and flicked the points.

Aerial images published by The West Australian showed a trail of twisted wreckage, with some wagons covered by their loads of iron ore.

With no one on board, the train travelled 92 km in 50 minutes before being deliberately derailed near Turner siding, about 119 kilometres from Port Hedland.

The train had been travelling from Newman to Port Hedland when the train driver got out to inspect a wagonat 4.40am onMonday and the train took off.

That's when things went south, according to the safety bureau: "While the driver was outside of the locomotive, the train commenced to runaway". No-one was injured in the incident.

Australia is one of the world's major sources of iron ore.

BHP has told Bloomberg that it "estimated that about 1.5 kilometers of track has been damaged and anticipates the recovery process to take about one week".


BHP will rely on stockpile reserves of iron ore at Port Headland to maintain its port operations.

In the meantime, the derailment has prompted more discussions about automated train systems for use by mining companies.

Western Australia's premier, Mark McGowan, told ABC that it was clear "extraordinary measures" had been necessary.

Industry specialists were confused about why the train would have run away down the tracks.

Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) representatives are not as convinced, saying the systems could put jobs and safety at risk.

"Then it's the safety aspect of people in remote areas, that the trains are controlled from a central situation in Perth".

This week's incident is also not the first time a BHP train has come off the tracks. In February a year ago, 40 more cars derailed 130km south of Port Hedland.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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