Queensland Rail is set to face criminal charges over a fatal train crash almost two years ago in Central Queensland. 

In the accident, a Queensland Rail train used for training collided with a stationary coal train on June 18, 2021, in Westwood, about 45km west of Rockhampton. 

The collision killed the driver of the Queensland Rail train, 49-year-old Chris O'Brien, and seriously injured a co-driver, while a tutor driver sustained minor injuries.

The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) confirmed that it had filed three charges against Queensland Rail, stating that the rail operator failed to comply with its safety duties under Rail Safety National Law. 

ONRSR alleges that the rail operator failed to ensure the safety of railway operation, adequately train and supervise workers, and ensure the safe use of rolling stock.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released a preliminary report in September 2021, stating that the Queensland Rail train travelled through a stop signal and collided with the parked coal train. 

The ATSB also found that a section of the track was closed for maintenance at the time, forcing all traffic to use a single line.

Queensland Rail confirmed that it would not contest the charges and pledged to work closely with the regulator to resolve the matter. A spokesperson for the rail operator said that the charges related to Queensland Rail's management of safe systems of work.

“Since the incident, Queensland Rail has implemented a comprehensive program to improve safety on the network, including permanently codifying long-end leading restrictions for all operators on the QR network and signals passed at danger prevention activities,” the spokesperson said.

The matter is scheduled to be mentioned in the Brisbane Magistrates Court in June. 

Under national law, the maximum penalty for similar breaches by a rail transport operator is $1.5 million per offence. The ATSB investigation is expected to be complete this year.

Queensland Rail expressed its continued sadness over the loss of their colleague and said it would continue to support Mr O'Brien's family, as well as the families of the other two workers involved in the incident.