Train derailment raises maintenance issue

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16 Jan 2019

The NSW opposition says a Sydney train derailment in which passengers narrowly avoided injury raises questions over whether maintenance for Sydney’s rail fleet is up to standard.


About 700 commuters were evacuated from the train at 5.30pm (AEDT) on Wednesday after two wheels came off the track near Edgecliff Station, in the city’s east, and a metal bar speared through a train floor into a carriage full of passengers.

“What happened yesterday could have had tragic consequences, and there’ll no doubt be an independent investigation,” NSW Labor leader John Robertson told reporters on Thursday.

“What we do know is that the O’Farrell Liberal government has cut 450 maintenance workers out of the rail network, we’ve seen overhead wires pulled down on three other occasions last year, and now this.

“The government needs to explain how it expects to avoid these sorts of incidents and instances occurring when they’ve cut 450 jobs.”

Sydney Trains chief executive Howard Collins said his organisation was investigating if it was a faulty track or an issue with the train.

“We will get to the bottom of this, it’s very important to know what caused this incident so we can understand how to eliminate it in the future,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.

He said early inquiries indicated the derailment was caused by a problem with the train, and that the piece of metal that pierced the carriage was picked up off the tracks.

“Although the piece of metal didn’t come from the train … it looks like it picked up this piece of metal and by sheer misfortune (it) acted like a skewer and went through the floor,” he said.

But Mr Collins said Sydney Trains “wouldn’t jump to any conclusions” until a thorough investigation was carried out.

The incident plunged rail services on Sydney’s eastern suburbs and Illawarra lines into chaos through the Wednesday evening peak but services returned to normal on Thursday morning.

Premier Barry O’Farrell said an inquiry into what went wrong would be overseen by the Independent Transport Safety Regulator and its results made public.

“I’m appalled by what I saw,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“I’m delighted no one was seriously injured, but I’m also appreciative of the work of Sydney Trains staff in ensuring that this morning’s peak was uninterrupted.

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