A freight company has been fined $234,000 for an incident in which two rail wagons uncoupled on a busy track, endangering the Auckland commuter rail system.

Rail regulator the NZ Transport Agency, which described the incident as a serious safety breach, said the wagons rolled on the tracks for more than 400m before derailing.

The incident occurred in the rail yard of the company, Daily Freight (1994) Ltd. The wagons came to rest, still upright, alongside a suburban train.

"This derailment was a very concerning near-miss and it's sheer luck no one was hurt," said the agency's regulatory general manager, Kane Patena.

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Daily Freight was sentenced in the Auckland District Court today over the January 2017 incident.

The rail wagons derailed but remained upright. Photo / NZTA
The rail wagons derailed but remained upright. Photo / NZTA
The wagons derailed, but remained upright, alongside an Auckland commuter train. Photo / NZTA
The wagons derailed, but remained upright, alongside an Auckland commuter train. Photo / NZTA

Patena said the company left an unsupervised and untrained employee to shunt the wagons.

"Daily Freight were fully aware of what was required of them in terms of training and supervision but failed to meet those essential safety standards."

"It's critical that people operating on the railways strictly adhere to safety requirements, because those rules are there not only to protect the public, but the workers too."

Daily Freight failed to adhere to its own safety plan or recognise the importance of not entering rail corridors without authority.

The company also failed to promptly report the incident to the Transport Agency.

The agency said it had since placed restrictions on Daily Freight's rail operations but acknowledged its co-operation throughout the investigation.

"The Transport Agency will be firm but fair in all our dealings as the rail regulator. We will continue to swiftly deal with non-compliance and hold rail operators to account who put public safety at risk," Patena said.

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