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NSW State Rail failed to manage safety: McInerney report

<p>The former New South Wales State Rail Authority has been slammed for its approach to rail safety in Peter McInerney’s report into the Waterfall train crash that killed seven people almost a year ago.</p> <p>Mr McInerney pointed the finger at a string of safety management failings within SRA for contributing to the crash on January 31, 2003.</p> <p>Although the immediate cause of the accident was the train exceeding the overturning speed on a curve just south of Waterfall station, the report listed the "systemic causes" of the accident as the simultaneous failures in the areas of medical standards, the deadman’s-handle emergency braking system and training.</p> <p>"SRA had insufficient safety and risk management expertise, and had not systematically identified hazards to its operations or effectively controlled all the risks that had been identified," the report concluded.</p> <p>"It had a reliance on accident trends to identify risks that needed to be controlled, which demonstrated a reactive approach to risk management."</p> <p>The investigation found that the driver, Herman Zeides, who died in the accident, had become incapacitated &#8211 most likely related to a heart condition &#8211 at the controls shortly after leaving Waterfall station.</p> <p>The Tangara train continued to accelerate with neither the deadman’s braking system nor the guard &#8211 the designated risk controls &#8211 intervening to prevent the crash.</p> <p>Concerns about the deadman’s system had been reported as early as 1988, shortly after the Tangara was introduced to service. The SRA management did nothing to correct the problem or bring it to notice, the report noted.</p> <p>In all, Mr McInerney has made 66 recommendations, all of which the State Government has agreed to support.</p> <p>Some of those recommendations are already being implemented at RailCorp, the new state rail organisation formed at the beginning of this year from the merger of SRA and the Rail Infrastructure Corporation, the government said.</p> <p>Premier Bob Carr has promised a "savage overhaul" of the former SRA but is yet to hand out punishment at the executive level. </p> <br />