THREE Aurizon crew members had difficulty escaping an overturned train carrying 819,000 litres of sulphuric acid.
The derailment was caused by flood damage to the track on December 27, 2015, according to a final report released by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau on Friday.
The report said relevant Queensland Rail personnel will be trained in interpreting meteorological information for regional areas to prevent similiar derailments in future.
Queensland Rail installed a weather monitoring station on the derailment site. It would also stop rail traffic on the corridor if flood water is observed at the ballast.
Aurizon has also introduced respiratory protection masks on trains transporting acid for its employees. It would also reassess its emergency evacuation procedures and windscreens.
The report found that the derailment was caused by flood damage to the ballast and “compromised the integrity of the track”.
“There were no anomalies identified with the train speed, handling, rolling stock condition, or operational performance preceding the derailment,” ATSB determined.
Specialist weather predictions may have prevented the derailment. Queensland Rail source this specialist advice in south east Queensland, but not in north Queensland operations, the report said.
“The driver became aware of the washout only moments before the locomotive impacted and derailed, causing the locomotive to tip on its side,” the report said.
“After sighting the washout, the train crew could do nothing to prevent or lessen the impact of the incident.
“The train crew knew the train was carrying dangerous goods. Their immediate concern was to evacuate the inundated locomotive cab, find a safe place, and communicate the details of the incident.”
They tried using an emergency smash glass hammer 59 times on the windshield to try and escape the derailed train.
And when the crew managed to escape by climbing out a window, which had become their roof when the cab overturned, they needed to report the incident by hailing the next car travelling along the Flinders Highway 20 kilometres east of Julia Creek.
The cab landed in 60 centimetres of flood water which poured into the cab and damaged all the communication equipment.
The Aurizon train was carrying 26 tanker wagons of sulphuric acid of 98 per cent purity, amounting to 819,000 litres.
The acid had been loaded at Sunmetals Corporation in Townsville and was travelling west.
60,800 litres leaked when the train overturned. The report cleared wagon owners Incitec Pivot of blame.There was nothing wrong with the construction of the wagons.
A report released two months before the incident investigated 41 derailments on the Mount Isa railway line between 2008-13.
Of these 41 derailments, only one had been caused due to flooding, which was near Charters Towers on November, 2008.