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Transport & Logistics

Highlights of RISSB National Derailment Investigations and Analysis Workshop

9 Mar 2012, by Informa Insights

The first RISSB Derailment Investigations and Analysis Workshop was held during the period 20-24 February 2012 in Canberra. It provided an opportunity for rail safety investigators to gain an insight in the area of derailment investigations.Over 90 Australian and overseas rail safety practitioners attended the two-day workshop and further a 25 attended the three-day practical exercises at the ARHS Kingston Railway Museum in Canberra.

The two-day workshop examined derailment issues. Many well-known railway derailment investigators provided the delegates with the benefit of their knowledge and experience. Additionally various derailment related topics and issues were discussed. These included derailment investigation and associated regulations, the investigation process, reporting layout, legal elements, human factors, the potential derailment triggers in rolling stock, infrastructure and operations, as well as examining a number of recent case studies.

Investigating a derailment scene is a complex task. Accordingly it is important to set a practical and realistic environment for attendees to learn the skills required to be competent in railway accident investigations. It is critical that rail safety investigators correctly identify the mechanisms of derailment and the contributing factors that caused the loss of guidance. The three-day practical session provided an pragmatic opportunity for those rail practitioners attending the workshop to gain and improve their knowledge base and skills in this area. The three day practical exercises focussed on what to observe, record and collect at a derailment site.

Mr Mike McLoughlin, a well known rail investigator in the UK, was the key speaker at the workshop and an instructor during the three day workshop. He said the workshop was “… an opportunity for the rail investigators to network, and to provide participants with an opportunity to learn new skills, and put them into practice. The workshop was mixed with theory and practical sessions, and addressed the basic methodology of derailment investigation.”

The three-day practical exercises were divided into five main learning areas, namely : derailment theory, evidence recording, rolling stock, Infrastructure, track survey and operations. The 25 attendees undertook a practical and theory test to evaluate their knowledge of the course content and to determine if the learning objectives were satisfied.

RISSB is very pleased with the industry response and the number of safety practitioners who attended this workshop. RISSB will continue to work with the rail industry to coordinate future derailment training seminars.

RISSB’s YouTube page contains a number of interviews with the key speakers as well as some thoughts about the five days from participants.

Additionally photographs for the workshop and practical exercises can be found at photo gallery here.

We’re looking at the possibility of holding another field course this July. If you’re interested in attending this practical course, please contact me directly at

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