Beresfield rail accident
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In the Beresfield rail accident of 23 October 1997, a FreightCorp coal train passed a red signal and ploughed into the rear of another coal train, causing a collision and derailment that blocked all four tracks of the Main Northern line and partially destroyed the station. The accident occurred early morning at 06:32 at Beresfield station, New South Wales, Australia.
The railway lines through Beresfield are straight and level, and visibility of the signals would have been good. The flashing tail light of the stationary coal train may have been hard to see, as such signals are typically less bright than stationary railway signals.
The coal train that went through the red signal had a crew of two, who unusually had been rostered on the same shift for a long period of time. This practice reduces safety through diversity, wherein one crew member feels alert when the other feels drowsy, and vice versa.
The coal train that went through the red signal was fitted with a simple vigilance control; unfortunately, this simple kind of control suffers from the counter-productive effect of mindless repetition. Since this accident, the vigilance control has been modified to have a degree of randomness of the length of intervals between checks. However, so long as it does not have a positive train stop effect, the vigilance control cannot guarantee that the train passing a red signal will be brought to a standstill.
- Railway Digest - June 2005, p34