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Media Release


Call for Public Enquiry on Rail Safety

Train Crashes Could Herald Disaster

The Public Transport Users Association has called for a judicial enquiry or royal commission into rail safety following yesterdays train crash at Epping.

PTUA Secretary Vaughan Williams said that the three train crashes since privatisation were a frightening trend and needed a thorough investigation.

"Since the train system was sold off to private interests, there have been three serious crashes. This is far more than there were under public ownership," said Mr Williams

"All three of these crashes, at Holmesglen, then Footscray, and now Epping, could easily have been a disaster. It is through sheer good luck that nobody was killed. If those had been peak-hour trains, full of commuters and school children, then make no mistake - dozens of people would have died and hundreds more been injured."

Mr Williams said that, although the Epping crash was yet to be investigated, it seemed likely that the cause was similar to the collision at Footscray last year.

"At Footscray, the driver was not paying attention and went through a red signal. Although all red signals have a device that trips the emergency brakes if a train passes the signal, the driver had also disobeyed the previous yellow signal's instruction to slow down."

"The investigation into the Footscray accident identified a cheap, effective engineering solution called 'speed proving' that, in effect, will detect a train that doesn't slow down at a yellow signal and activate the brakes automatically. This would provide a fail-safe backup if, for whatever reason, the driver does not obey the yellow signal. This would have prevented the crash at Footscray and may well have prevented yesterday's crash at Epping."

"This solution has not been implemented - and I want to know why," said Mr Williams.

"We don't want to wait for a Granville before we get to the bottom of these serious safety issues. We don't want to tell hundreds of Victorian families their loved ones have been killed or injured through Government and operator neglect. The Government must move immediately to establish a public enquiry into the safety of the rail system," concluded Mr Williams

PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 19 June 2002