Train derails near Casino, investigations under way
A TRAIN derailment north of Casino has left a former employee of the railway concerned about the maintenance of the tracks.
The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulatory (ONRSR) was investigating a minor derailment at Wiangaree, where two wheels on one wagon of a freight train came off the tracks, on January 26.
A former Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) employee, who asked to remain anonymous, said he had raised concerns with the company about safety precautions and track maintenance prior to the derailment.
"I raised my concerns with management ‒ I felt there was going to be a serious incident or fatality in the local area," he said.
The Wiangaree derailment occurred almost one month before the fatal train derailment in Victoria, on a track also operated by ARTC.
"It's something I've been concerned about, I'm surprised it hadn't happened sooner," he said.
"It's not right when you've got train drivers (who) have lost their lives."
An ONRSR spokesman said under law, he was not permitted to discuss publicly the operations of specific rail transport operators.
"ONRSR is working with the appropriate parties to ensure the cause is fully understood and improvements made to prevent a recurrence."
Despite the derailment, an ARTC spokesman said safety was the company's "number one priority".
"When any derailment occurs, the site is carefully controlled to allow independent investigators to attend and make their assessments," the spokesman said.
"When the Wiangaree incident occurred both the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and ONRSR were notified.
"Neither regulator chose to attend the scene and ARTC assessed the site and undertook the necessary repair works.
But the former employee said he wasn't confident any safety changes will be made, as he had photographic evidence of a lack of maintenance and safety breaches of the tracks over several years.
He said a lot of staff were feeling the pressure as management continued to fail to ensure safety measures were put in place.
"A lot of workers have been off on stress, high demands placed on them," he said.
"There's been no improvement."
But the ARTC spokesman said a number of standards were in place alongside a "robust safety management system" to ensure safe railway operations.
"This is supported by regular visual, track inspections by local teams along the entire length of the network at least weekly and a quarterly track geometry vehicle inspection which takes a range of in-depth, sophisticated measurements," he said.