Safety legacy … the crash scene at Waterfall in 2003 / Pic: Matt Turner Source: The Daily Telegraph
IT will end up taking CityRail more than 10 years to fit its trains with emergency exits – one of the key safety recommendations of the Waterfall inquiry.
Trials of the Internal Emergency Door Release (IEDR) system, which will allow passengers onboard a train to open the doors in an emergency, began in April 2010 but have been beset by problems.
During the trials last month, the doors could be opened as the train travelled at 60km/h.
In his 2005 report into the Waterfall tragedy, which claimed the lives of seven people, Justice Peter McInerney recommended that all passenger trains be fitted with an internal passenger emergency door release.
During the Waterfall disaster in 2003 some passengers were trapped inside the overturned Tangara train for more than 40 minutes.
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The train driver had suffered a heart attack and the guard was incapacitated by the crash – meaning both were unable to open the doors.
Despite two years of trials, RailCorp recently informed the Independent Transport Safety Regulator, which monitors the implementation of the Waterfall inquiry recommendations, that the rollout of the emergency exit system wouldn’t begin on Millennium and Oscar trains until next year.
It won’t be completed until 2015 – a decade after the change was first recommended.
Only a handful of Tangara trains, which were originally factory fitted with an internal emergency exit system as standard until it removed by CityRail before they entered service, have had the IEDR successfully retrofitted, while Waratah trains have the technology fitted as standard.
When installed, the system will allow passengers to call the train’s guard if the train stops and the doors do not open automatically.
If the guard does not answer, the call will be forwarded to the driver.
If the driver does not answer, the doors will then open, allowing passengers to escape.
A RailCorp spokesman said the opening of the doors during testing while the train was in motion was a deliberate test.
“Passengers will never be able to replicate these kinds of tests,” he said.
Despite the delays, the spokesman said RailCorp had made “steady” progress.
“Since the release of the final report of the Waterfall Inquiry in 2005, RailCorp has completed extensive risk assessments on the IEDR system and design to progress the retrofitting of Millennium and Oscar fleets,” he said.
“RailCorp has made continuous and steady progress on this passenger safety project.”