Saturday 24th Mar, 2018

Sydney Trains to halve Richmond speed limit after January collision

Photo: ATSB
Photo: ATSB

Sydney Trains has imposed a temporary speed restriction of 20km/h between Richmond East and Richmond railway stations, after 15 people were hospitalised in a collision at Richmond on January 22.

Preliminary information from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s investigation does not come up with any clear cause for the incident, but does say Sydney Trains will temporarily enforce a 20km/h speed restriction, as it prepares to apply a permanent 25km/h restriction.

The speed limit on the section of track between Richmond and Richmond East was 50km/h prior to the collision.

A few minutes before 10am on January 22, 2018, a Waratah-model train carrying 24 passengers and three Sydney Trains employees hit the buffer stop at Richmond station, 60.7 kilometres by rail from Central, where the train had left roughly 80 minutes earlier.

The ATSB’s initial information doesn’t detail how fast the train was travelling when it actually collided with the buffer stop, but says the train travelled the 169-metre length of Richmond station at “an estimated average speed of 35km/h”.

“The impact caused all cars to concertina together, with some lifting from the normal position,” the Bureau outlined in its initial report. “The rear wheelset of the rear bogie on the third position car had raised above the rail and all wheels of the rear bogie on the fifth position car derailed.”

The report details damage to the front of the train, and the interconnecting areas and coupling systems between cars.

Minimal damage was reported to the inside of the train, but 15 of the 27 people on the train were hospitalised with various injuries, including suspected fractures.

The ATSB believes there was little-to-no warning that the collision was about to occur: passengers’ injuries were consistent with standing up (as Richmond was the final stop on the journey), and few appeared to be holding handrails or fixtures.

The three Sydney Trains crew on the train included the driver, who sustained minor injuries; the guard, who was standing at the door of the driver’s compartment at the rear of the train, and suffered facial and chest injuries; and a Sydney Trains cleaner who was in the passenger area of one of the cars, and was treated by NSW Ambulance at the scene.

The train’s driver had been a train driver since 2007, was familiar with the route, and was passed as medically fit. The train was below the speed limit of the line between Richmond East and Richmond, and no environmental factors have yet been found to have possibly contributed to the incident, based on the ATSB’s initial information.

The Bureau will continue its research, with train, track and infrastructure investigations to take place, a collision sequence to be developed, and a variety of other investigations scheduled.

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