|Granville, 8:10am 18th January 1977
||[Jan. 18th, 2010|07:15 am]
(This is an open post)|
On this day at 8:10am Eastern Daylight Savings time a crowded peak-hour train left the rails and collided with the supports of a bridge. The bridge then collapsed onto two of the train's carriages. In all the accident took the lives of 83 people, fathers, mothers, daughters, sons and two young girls. There are disagreements over the cause of the accident; deficient track maintenance / deficient locomotive maintenance, but one thing everyone agrees on is that the root cause was penny-pinching of maintenance by the then New South Wales State Government.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX6vGw3cG4g skip to 1:11)
Called to account, the government amended their policies and upgraded railway infrastructure. In the 1980's New South Wales had a world class railway.
It didn't last.
Penny-pinching resumed ten years later and the results were tragic.
Cowan Bank accident, 6th May 1990: An inter-city V-set crashed into the rear carriage of steam locomotive 3801's excursion train. 5 lives lost. Caused by signal failure, and a signalling system that did not adequately monitor train positions.
Glenbrook accident, 2nd December 1999: Another inter-city V-set crashed into the rear carriage of the Indian Pacific. 7 lives lost Caused by signal failure, inadequate communications and again a signalling system that did not adequately monitor train positions.
Waterfall accident, 31st January 2003: The driver of an inter-urban G-set suffered a heart attack and (is believed to have) died at the controls of the train as it was travelling downhill. Instead of stopping as designed, the train's speed increased until it derailed on a curve. 7 lives lost. Caused by inadequate vigilance controls (AKA dead man pedal). The investigation was also impeded because the train's black-box recorder was not installed.
Somewhere on my VHS cassettes I have a recording of that idiot, former Premier Bob Carr responding to the media after a derailment at Waverton station. He stated "We all have ideas about how much money should be spent, but the current level of funding for the railways is realistic."
Like hell it was...
I'm sure it's not easy to draw the line on penny pinching. My own city's Metrorail system has seen a rise in accidents, which may be why people are now more willing to pay increased fares, tho there's still suspicion that the system leaders spend too much on themselves.
I got momentarily confused by your "Eastern Daylight Savings time," which has another meaning in the U.S. Hadn't occurred to me before that the Southern Hemisphere saves daylight when the Northern Hemisphere doesn't.
Have you watched the YouTube video? It's taken from the documentary-drama on the investigation into the accident, and the attempt by the state government to intimidate the coroner into not discovering the real cause of the accident.
Moving on to more recent times, it wouldn't surprise me if Bob Carr had been spending money on himself. He was that type of person. However he blew millions on projects that he had given minimal thought to, and which have proved to be economic failures.
Just to confuse you even further on time zones here - The states of Victoria and New South Wales are currently on Daylight Savings, however the state of Queensland has never adopted the practice. That means Old Wolf will need to change his watch an hour forward & back each time he crosses the border. :)
Is your government running the rail system directly or is it run by a separate company funded through the government?
Here in B.C., our transit system is run by what's called a "crown corporation", a company funded by various levels of government and run by government employees. Ours is called Translink
, and it runs our primary bus system, a "heavy" rail line (as opposed to light rail) called SkyTrain, as well as a pair of boats to ferry passengers across Burrard Inlet called SeaBus.
Unfortunately, most of Translink's CEOs seem to live in Vancouver, so the vast majority of our buses run in there, with short shrift getting paid to all the cities surrounding, with especially poor service in my home town of Surrey...
Do you think that your rail system would work better (and more safely) if it was run by a proxy company?
It's difficult to tell who does what these days, but the government is supposed to be at the top of the hierachy.
Batty would be able to tell you much more about it than I can, but as best my memory serves it was originally the PTC - Public Transport Commission overseeing everything including Trains, Busses, Trams and Sydney & Newcastle Ferries. There were a few private railways and private trains, but the government ran all the main lines. IIRC the PTC was divided up in the 1980's into different entities for the Trains, Busses and Ferries (the tram system had long been dismantled). The freight trains were privatised into Freightcorp (now Pacific National), New South Wales's long distance trains became Countrylink while suburban & intercity trains became Cityrail. The track infrastructure (including signals) is managed by a body called Railcorp. What percentage of these is government / private I'm not sure but the government is ultimately responsible for the condition of the track and the safety & reliability of Cityrail. Each of the above accidents involved at least 1 Cityrail train.
Batty, if you're reading, have I got all the above correct?
On the matter of a proxy company, that I couldn't say. Some fully private railways have been run safely and efficiently, but there have also been some that were disasters. Many of the recent infrastructure projects that failed economically where joint ventures between the state government and private construction companies so the public here have mixed feelings on the issue.