More than 40 years after 83 people were killed and over 200 were injured in the Granville train disaster, the NSW Government has issued a formal apology to victims.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian and transport and infrastructure minister Andrew Constance made the formal apology in State Parliament on May 4.
With roughly 50 survivors and victims’ relatives watching on from the gallery, the premier acknowledged the impact Australia’s worst rail disaster had on those people, and the state as a whole.
“I have no doubt that the pain people feel today can sometimes feel as raw and real as it was all those years ago,” Berejiklian said.
“The lifelong impact on survivors and the unimaginable grief felt by those who lost a loved one has never been formally acknowledged and this was long overdue.
“I hope that today’s apology helps the victims and their loved ones some way along their journey of healing. We also wanted to honour the first responders and everyday heroes who stepped up in the worst possible circumstances.”
Constance said the disaster led to a significant commitment to invest in safety and emergency systems on the rail network.
“There is nothing we can do to take that pain away, but we do offer our heartfelt apology to those people whose lives were irrevocably changed at Granville that day,” Constance said.
83 people were killed and more than 200 injured on January 18, 1977, when an eight-carriage train derailed at Granville railway station in Western Sydney just after 8am.
Upon leaving the rails, the train collided with a row of steel and concrete supports which held up the Bold Street bridge, which subsequently collapsed on top of several of the train’s carriages.
An inquiry into the disaster found the poor condition of the track had most likely caused the train to derail.
The incident itself helped trigger significant investment by the State Government into modernising Sydney’s railways.
But the Government has been heavily criticised by the media and local, historical and support groups for a lack of care towards the families of those left behind by the disaster.
A 40th-anniversary memorial service was held at Granville earlier this year, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull among those in attendance.