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Waterfall inquiry is not the way forward: Mark Carter

<p>A judicial inquiry into the Waterfall train accident is "premature, expensive and blatantly political", according to rail industry consultant Mark Carter.</p> <p>Mr Carter, who is also a <em>Rail Express</em> columnist, said establishing the inquiry is a knee-jerk pre-election reaction that undermines the efforts of professional rail safety investigators to complete the job.</p> <p>New South Wales premier Bob Carr and transport minister Carl Scully have called in Judge Peter McInerney to investigate the crash, with the flexibility to widen its scope and resources if necessary.</p> <p>"Australia’s rail systems are subject to greater regulation and scrutiny than at any time in their history," Mr Carter writes in the <em>Australian</em> today (Monday, February 10).</p> <p>In response to privatisation and contracting out of much of the rail industry "all states have enacted rail safety legislation that demands that all train operators fullfil a rigorous accreditation process, which is overseen by a rail safety regulator", he said.</p> <p>The powers of rail safety investigators are adequately defined within existing state and federal legislation.</p> <p>The regulation is much more comprehensive than that governing the trucking industry, which is involved in a disproportionate number of road fatalities, Mr Carter said.</p> <p>Rail’s safety record is enviable and although commuter rail travel has increased, the annual number of passenger fatalities has been low this decade compared with 1993.</p> <p>"If we’re to have this knee-jerk reaction to every rail accident, then I look forward to a similar inquiry being established by Mr Carr or Liberal leader John Brogden into the inexcusable loss of life on our roads," Mr Carter said.</p> <p>Rail safety regulation is stronger than ever now and the biggest long-term threat to rail safety comes from lack of investment in rail infrastructure, he said.</p> <p>Rail is at the bottom of government spending priorities.</p> <p>Only world-class funding will deliver world-class performance and safety levels, Mr Carter said.</p> <br />