TAIC investigating Bus v locomotive accident at Bunnythorpe

16 Sep 2020
Photo of the level crossing / Google
Photo of the level crossing / Google

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has opened an inquiry into the causes and circumstances of a the accident involving a railway locomotive and a school bus on the morning of Wednesday 16 Sept.

The circumstances reported to date are that the bus with passengers struck a locomotive at Clevely Line level crossing between Palmerston North and Bunnythorpe. The bus driver was fatally injured as a result of the accident. 

It is reported that the level crossing was protected with flashing lights and bells.

Naveen Kozhuppakalam, the Acting Chief Investigator of Accidents, says there may be people who saw what happened, given the location of the accident on a main road at a relatively busy time of day. 

“TAIC is appealing for any witnesses – especially anyone who may have captured the accident on their vehicle’s dash-cam -- to please contact TAIC as soon as possible.” said Mr Kozhuppakalam, “witnesses should email TAIC at info@taic.org.nz.” 

Mr Kozhuppakalam has appointed two investigators, who arrived on site this afternoon.

“The Investigation team have expert knowledge of train operations, engineering and maintenance. 

“Their initial work will include inspecting the locomotive and the bus, mapping the site, examining rail systems such as the signals, examining vehicle components, seeking any recorded data from the vehicles’ electronics, and obtaining maintenance records. 

“They will also interview the train driver, other staff, and any witnesses to the accident.”

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission opens an inquiry when it believes the circumstances of an accident or incident have - or are likely to have - significant implications for transport safety, or when the inquiry may allow the Commission to make findings or recommendations to improve transport safety.