AUSTRALIA - Update...Defective Fuse Box, Signal at Glenbrook Rail Collision Site 'Not Checked' : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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Title: Signal at collision site 'not checked'



March 23, 2000

A defective fuse box that set off the chain of events leading to the Glenbrook crash had not been checked for 4 years, despite a rail policy stating routine maintenance had to be done every two years.

It was suggested to the Glenbrook inquiry yesterday that this neglect was due to budget cuts and the Rail Access Corporation's unwillingness to pay workers overtime.

The inquiry was told the fuse box at Glenbrook had still not had a routine check, four months after seven people were killed in the collision.

On the day of the crash, a blown fuse in the "defective power supply unit" caused the signal to turn to red and delayed the Indian Pacific. The inter-urban train ran into the back of it as it was moving off from the failed signal.

Mr Lawrence George Gadd, a signal electrician in the Blue Mountains for the past decade, said it was his responsibility to maintain the power supply unit every two years.

It was last done on June 3, 1995. He said it used to be done on weekends, but a couple of years ago it became part of weekly maintenance.

Mr Peter Capelin, QC, counsel for train driver Mr Kevin Sinnett, suggested this was because of a cutback on expenditure. Mr Gadd agreed weekend work required the payment of overtime. He also agreed that by the time he got to checking signal 40.8 (at Glenbrook), it would have been five years since the last check.

Counsel assisting, Mr Christopher Barry, QC, said later that the material provided in relation to the signals at Glenbrook in the 12 months before the accident did not appear to "indicate that the signal was about to fail or there was any lack of appropriate procedure".

A regional network operations superintendent for the State Rail Authority, Mr Chris Roy Hartman, told the inquiry yesterday that after the accident, he found staff had a radio on at the Penrith signal box, which was "against the rules" because it could be a distraction.

The inquiry continues.



-- (, March 23, 2000


More... (same source)


Premier demands end to rail chaos

By ROBERT WAINWRIGHT, Transport Writer

March 23, 2000

The Premier has ordered an overhaul of the city's beleaguered rail system amid a crisis that front-line train controllers claim has reduced staff morale to its lowest level.

As Mr Carr took the unprecedented step yesterday of intervening in the furore over surging ticket prices and poor service, the Herald obtained a letter to the chief executive of State Rail, Mr Simon Lane, in which controllers expressed frustration at a system they say can barely cope with peak-hour demands because of poor management and failing equipment.

Mr Carr's crisis meeting yesterday led to claims of a lack of confidence in his Minister for Transport, Mr Scully, who last night announced a multi-pronged "action plan" thrashed out with rail chiefs, including Mr Lane.

The plan includes promises of speedier off-peak track inspections to avoid peak-hour bottlenecks, a review of infrastructure maintenance priorities, improved training, and more cleaning staff .

But one of the State's most senior train controllers, Mr Robert Penn, told the Herald last night that the promises were too little, too late.

"There isn't a hope in hell of coping with the Olympics," he said. "We are already flat-strap coping with peak-hour traffic each day with not enough trains, untrained crews and defective equipment."

In his March 11 letter to Mr Lane, Mr Penn wrote: "State Rail is currently providing rail transport at a level that would be considered far from acceptable in a developing country, let alone Sydney.

"The present abysmal situation has been brought about by poor management, staff shortages and a lack of foresight, combining to drag morale to its lowest-ever level.

"At a time when operations staff should be settled and honing their skills in preparation for the forthcoming Easter Show and Olympics, they are facing uncertainty and confusion in an industry that is in total chaos.

"Train crews and station staff are subjected daily to abuse from passengers when defective, dirty and vandalised trains are cancelled and removed from service to effect repairs."

Mr Penn went on to claim that staff felt senior managers had "lost touch with reality".

"Perhaps it is time that you and your senior managers get out of your cars so that you too can experience the 'delights' of rail travel in this city," he wrote.

"Take a late-night journey on the Bankstown line and see first-hand how ineffective your much-lauded private security guards are at controlling the anti-social behaviour so prevalent on that line."

One of the chief critics of rail management, the Australian Services Union spokesman Mr George Panigiris, revealed last night that 13 per cent of carriages were out of service. Mr Penn's letter vindicated his own concerns and criticisms, he said.

Mr Scully last night blamed the problems on big increases in passenger numbers, extra safety checks after the death of six workers, and the refurbishment of carriages.

"The action plan will seek to deliver improvements to track inspections and will include the reordering of maintenance priorities to avoid bottlenecks," he said.

"CityRail will increase the number of fault-finding teams inspecting the rolling stock in rail yards before peak times. This will help to reduce late cancellations in passenger services caused by defects in rolling stock.

"New train guards will be rostered regularly with an experienced senior guard to help build their confidence. On-the-job training for all new guards and drivers is being increased."

Copyright ) 2000. The Sydney Morning ==============================

-- (, March 23, 2000.

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