Canberra, Nov 6 (IANS) A goods train carrying iron ore in Australia’s Pilbara region had to be derailed after it travelled for almost one hour without a driver.
Apparently the driver of the mine-operated rail freight stepped out late on Monday to inspect one of the carriages. Before he could return, the train began to move away, Xinhua news agency reported.
“With no one on board, the train travelled for 92 km before being deliberately derailed by the control centre, about 119 km from Port Hedland (near Turner),” the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said in a statement on Tuesday.
The train was carrying 268 wagons, it had reached a speed of 110 kmph before it was derailed from its Integrated Remote Operations Centre in Perth.
Australian mining giant BHP was expected to lose millions of dollars besides three days of access to the rail line, an analyst said.
In a similar incident in September an out-of-control automated Tasmanian freight train also had to be derailed to avoid disaster.
Despite these setbacks, however, the world’s first fully autonomous, long-distance, heavy-haul rail network — the AutoHaul — was expected to become operational in Australia by the end of 2018.