28 Oct 2010

KiwiRail faulted over train derailment

5:53 pm on 28 October 2010

A report on the derailing of a train by a slip near Upper Hutt has found poor communication and a lack of risk assessment by KiwiRail.

The engine jumped the track after hitting a slip at the end of a tunnel in July 2009, leaving 240 people stranded inside the tunnel for three hours.

The report by the Transport and Accident Investigation Commission says the rescue was conducted within a reasonable time, but KiwiRail had not systematically assessed the rail corridor for instable slopes.

It says the rail operator's system for responding to severe weather warnings lacked a focal point and those involved were not updated or required to report back.

The commission has recommended the New Zealand Transport Agency oversee a review of KiwiRail's track inspection regime and its severe weather warning system.

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn says it has completed a draft study that assesses potential slip hazards in the Wellington Metro area.

KiwiRail is working to improve its systems to interprete and distribute information about severe weather warnings, he says.