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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2 (June, 1926)

Derailments — Their Cause And Consequence — Necessity for Care and Forethought in Shunting

page 9

Their Cause And Consequence
Necessity for Care and Forethought in Shunting

Whenever a shunting mishap occurs, general efficiency suffers, and the success of the Department's operations is, to a greater or less extent, hindered.

Personal accident may result, causing pain to the individual and anxiety and disturbance in the home. Inconvenience and delay to both the Department and its customers is an almost invariable concomitant of trouble of this kind. The cost of repairs adds to the expenses of the Department and tends to cut down the margin of funds available for desirable and beneficial improvements in working conditions and plant.

Every employee who takes a hand in shunting work should thoroughly know the signals and have a proper understanding of each shunting movement intended.

The avoidance of accident should be achieved by constant vigilance. A writer (J.F.) in the Victorian Railways Magazine deals in a very sensible manner with the general problem as follows:—

Be Careful! Be Vigilant! Be Sure! Above all, play for Safety First. Appreciate that the greatest safety device is a careful man.

Causes of derailments may be summarised as follows:—

  • (1) Carelessness;

  • (2) Obstructions;

  • (3) Track Defects;

  • (4) Vehicle Defects;

  • (5) Rough Shunting;

  • (6) Excessive Speed on Curves;

  • (7) Weight not evenly distributed over the wheels of an engine or vehicle;

  • (8) Unfastened Truck doors;

  • (9) Combination of Track and Vehicle defects.

The most common forms of carelessness which lead to mishaps and which the man on the job generally attributes to “bad luck” are:—

  • (1) Neglect to observe if the points have fallen back into position after a trailing movement through them.

  • (2) Facing points not held right home against stock rail, or released before the trailing wheels of last vehicle have cleared the blade.

  • (3) Neglect to place locking bar in position or to hold the points for a facing movement.

  • (4) Passing vehicles through points on a trailing movement, and failing to see that the last wheel is clear of points before giving the signal to set back.

  • (5) Neglecting to observe if trucks are standing foul before commencing a set back movement or kicking trucks into a road.

  • (6) The flange of a wheel being worn and getting in between the blade and stock rail when nose of point blade is chipped or blunted.

  • (7) Dirty points causing blade to stick and thus bringing about derailment.

My advice to all young Railwaymen is to exercise ordinary common sense, care and intelligence—without these, mishaps will be many.

As a last and very important factor, too much stress cannot be laid on the necessity for a shunter to know exactly what movements he is going to make before commencing shunting operations, and to satisfy himself that there is a proper understanding with the signalmen, enginemen and others concerned; also, when kicking trucks, to see that an employee is on hand to hold points or drop brakes.

Above all, we must never forget that trucks are costly, that they frequently contain valuable goods, and that when trucks or contents are damaged by rough usage, the result is waste—nothing else. It should always be our aim to eliminate carelessness, with its attendant loss, irritation, and discord between management, men and patrons. Carelessness cannot be too heavily censured, while care, with a diligent despatch of duty, cannot be too heartily praised, because thus is paved the way to that high reputation which we as railwaymen prize so much.

Through an adjustment of rates, the Department has been able to secure a minimum of 12,000 tons of gas-works coal for conveyance from Rewanui to Dunedin. This new traffic resulted from a chance remark to a Business Agent.

Any further remarks of a similar nature will be welcomed.