Train accident in Central Queensland that claimed the life of Chris O’Brien described in the ATSB report

Investigators have revealed that a fatal accident in central Queensland train accident occurred when a train used for a training exercise ran through a stop signal and collided with a parked coal train.

The preliminary report, published by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, describes the final seconds leading up to the crash on 18 June 2021, including an emergency call from the network operator when the train passed a red signal.

The ATSB report shows that a Queensland Rail train without carriages ran between Rockhampton and Bluff during a “route training”.

The exercises are performed to allow drivers to learn signaling, speed and dynamics in specific track sections.

It was driving “along the end leading”, meaning the cab was at the rear.

Three people — one driver, one driver, and one supervisor — were on board.

Near Westwood, about 50 miles west of Rockhampton, a section of the track was closed for maintenance, forcing all traffic to use a single line.

The train in Queensland Rail was instructed to stop at a red signal to allow an Aurizon Coal train consisting of three locomotives and 102 empty carriages to pass that part of the track.

Rescue workers and coal trains involved in a collision with another locomotive.
The report states that the Queensland Rail engine underwent a stop signal before hitting the coal train.(

Delivered: RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service


The critical moment

Kl. At 11:25 a.m., an alarm was generated at the network control center indicating that the Queensland Rail train had passed through the red signal and entered a 50-kilometer-per-hour track section at 72 km / h.

Six seconds later, the network controller made an emergency broadcast about the alarm, but there was no response from the crew.

A diagram showing the route a train took before crashing.
The locomotive’s route into the Westwood common loop. The yellow solid shows the path of the locomotive on approach and after passing signal WD28.(



Four seconds later, the train began to slow down. It drove at 60 km / h.

Six seconds later, the train collided with the Aurizon cult train at 44 km / h.

The impact of the crash left the last nine carriages on the coal track damaged and took the life of Chris O’Brien, aged in his 40s, who rode the Queensland Rail train.

A photo of two trains with arrows identifying sections of the trains that collided.
The full report is expected to be delivered next year.(

the contribution


The co-driver sustained serious injuries and the tutor driver sustained minor injuries.

Sir. O’Brien has been remembered as “an amazing man” and father.

In an online post, his family said: “Our everything is gone”.

The ATSB report said the preliminary report was prepared to provide information to industry and the public, but contained “no analysis or findings”.

A final report on the incident is due next year.

Emergency workers at the site of the coal-driving collision near Westwood, west of Rockhampton
Rescue workers at the scene of the accident.(

Delivered: RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service



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