Derailed cane bin slams into power pole

Crews work to right a derailed brake van and replace a power pole on the Mackay-Eungella Rd near Pleystowe.
Crews work to right a derailed brake van and replace a power pole on the Mackay-Eungella Rd near Pleystowe. Tony Martin

A SPLINTERED power pole had to be replaced after a cane train brake van was derailed at Pleystowe.

The derailment, shortly before 7pm Sunday, cut power to 41 Ergon Energy customers.

Craig Bentley, general manager for cane supply and logistics at Mackay Sugar's Mackay mills, said the bin, which was the last in the rake, broke its coupling, derailed, hit the power pole and both the bin and the brake van rolled on their side.

Crews worked throughout Monday to retrieve the brake van and get it back on the rails. The brake van does not appear to have been seriously damaged.

A crane was brought to the site, firstly to prop up the power pole, and then to right the brake van.

"It's not a loco you see in the picture, it's the brake van. A brake van is a track vehicle which is unpowered, but it's a similar weight to a loco and we attach those to the back of our bigger trains, and it acts as an anchoring force at the back of the train. It's unpowered, but it has brakes to keep the train more stable.

Mr Bentley said derailments were not uncommon.

"We have several a week. With narrow gauge cane rail operations with single-axle bins, derailments are a fairly common occurrence.

"They're small trains and they're very low speed. On narrow gauge and with that kind of rolling stock, you are more prone to derailment than you would have on high-end, wide gauge trains like the coal trains, for example.

The cause of the derailment is still being investigated.

A crane holds the damaged power pole in place.
A crane holds the damaged power pole in place. Tony Martin

An Ergon Energy spokesman said crews worked through the day to replace a power pole, snapped off at the base by the cane train derailment.

"At 6.56 (Sunday) night a cane train derailed and brought down the pole about 1km east of Pleystowe. However, all powerlines remained in the air and there was no power interruption to customers in the area as a result of the accident at that time.

"About midnight, Ergon crews stabilised the pole with a borer truck to allow a crane to remove the train. As a safety measure Ergon crews de-energised the powerlines and remained on site until the new power pole was delivered to site this morning.

"Power was interrupted to 41 customers in the immediate area - all of whom were re supplied from other parts of the local network by about 2.15am (Monday).

"Power was then interrupted again to the 41 customers at 10.51 (Monday) morning to enable crews to start work on replacing the pole, re-connecting the powerlines and energising them.

"All going to plan, Ergon expects to restore power to all customers by about 4.30pm today (Monday)”.

In a separate event, a Kookaburra interrupted power to 1600 customers at Ball Bay, Cape Hillsborough, Haliday Bay, Hampden, Kuttabul, Port Newry, Seaforth, The Leap, and Yakapari from 7.49 on Monday morning.

Crews patrolled the power line and found the burnt carcass of the bird near the McKinley Creek high voltage substation. Power was restored to all customers by 9.45am.

Topics:  cane tram derailment ergon energy mackay sugar pleystowe power cut power lines down train accident

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