Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

The mangled wreckage of BHP's runaway train which derailed in Western Australia

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Russell Knight | 09 November, 2018, 04:37

That's when things went south, according to the safety bureau: "While the driver was outside of the locomotive, the train commenced to runaway".

Mining giant BHP, which owns the four-locomotive train, made a decision to derail before it reached the town of Port Hedland near its Western Australia Pilbara site, and flicked the points. "The driver alighted from the locomotive to inspect an issue with an ore vehicle", the Australian Transport Safety Bureau stated.

It was deliberately derailed at a set of points, operated by a control centre, about 119km from Port Hedland.

The train, comprising 268 wagons stretching nearly two miles in length, was carrying up to 35,000 tonnes of iron ore worth about $2 million when the driver alighted to inspect an issue with a wagon and the train moved off without him.

The runaway train laden with iron ore travelled 92km with no one on board before it was deliberately derailed.

"Had it been closer to a built up area another train coming from another area, so many possibilities that are dangers and hazard I'm just glad it happened where it did", the CFMEU's Greg Busson said.

BHP's rail operations in Western Australia have now been suspended.

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'We are working with the appropriate authorities to investigate the situation, ' a BHP spokesperson said.

It remains unclear exactly what caused the train to take off on its own and why the driver couldn't get back on before it built up speed.

Analysts think iron ore prices could see a short-term bump as a result of this derailment, according to the news service.

"Investors are keeping one eye on the developments in the Pilbara after BHP announced it had halted all rail operations", ANZ bank said in a report.

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

The Rio Tinto company says it completed its first delivery of iron ore using an autonomous train in July.

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