The two interurban lines, ie central coast and blue mountains, have always had pressure maintained on government through the marginal seats that they created (less marginal these days) and reports of lateness do a lot of political damage [because of land shortage, many more people are forced to commute from these lines than ideal].
So it would have been both parties to blame if this culture had led to overspeed
I understand. Thanks. Where you say ‘I doubt it’ do you mean you doubt that speed was in any way an issue, or that the driver/engine staff were blameless and were following their directives appropriately? Thanks for clearing that up about Kerr, there didn’t seem to be any connection I could find, so I just wanted to eliminate that.
We don't get disasters of this size in Australia much thank God, in the UK seem to occur every year or 2. It therefore hit Australians very hard, particularly mountain people.
The scale of this disaster was bad, and the sheer bad luck in the train derailing near the bridge and then bringing that down must have added to the emotional shock and disbelief that life should be so cruel.
Is the extra 10km/h limit for the intercity/express services stretch all the way to central?
I’d also like to know, if anyone can help, when that was introduced. Is it still in force?
With regard to the Glenbrook accident you note ‘on time running had become more important than safe operating’
That’s really what I’m trying to explore here, and I’m sorry to labour on about this speed issue when you’ve made it plain that you don’t consider it a factor, but I’m not suggesting that speed limits were broken, merely considering the bad mix of fragile carriages, worn track and high speed together. Stronger carriages wouldn’t have prevented the accident though may have minimised the loss of life. The speed of the train might not have caused any problem were it not for the worn tracks. The worn tracks might not have been a problem if the train had been travelling a little slower. One report on the web reads as follows:
The morning commuter train from the Blue Mountains into Sydney was an important train. Clearly, It was important for the many commuters who used it that it should arrive in New South Wales' capital with time enough for them to reach their desks in time to start their day's work. But the train had an even greater significance for the NSW state government. The line to the Blue Mountain connected a number of marginal constuencies and transport was a major issue of the time. The state-run NSW railway was in a run-down condition and complaints about the service were frequent. For example, the trains themselves were left uncleaned and were so filthy that commuters using the route would carry tissues in order to clean the seats before sitting down. Time keeping was also a problem, but this particular service was given a degree of priority and efforts were made to ensure that it ran to time.
This required some very smart working of the train as there were other, stopping trains using the same path through Sydney's suburbs. At one point there was a margin of just 3 minutes between the Blue Mountains train and a stopping train. Just a short delay could mean that the local train went ahead and the express would be held up causing a late arrival of about 30 minutes. An expedient to help to avoid this was to impose a speed limit at the curve at Granville which was 10 km/h higher than that imposed on all other curves in NSW….
A signal check at Blacktown was the only impediment to otherwise good timekeeping. But it was the cause of the train being 3 minutes late departing from Parramatta for the non-stop run into Strathfield. With around 25 minutes journey time left and under clear signals, the Train 108 accelerated to the maximum speed permitted for the line, (80km/h). But, as it approached Granville it began to slow in anticipation of a temporary (20km/h) speed restriction. This had been imposed because of track maintenance being carried out east of Granville, at Clyde. As the train entered a left hand curve and travelling at (78 km/h) the locomotive derailed.
What I am looking into is the underlying factors that cause these kinds of accidents to happen. The way I see it is this – those commuters held some political importance at the time preceding the accident. The government (whichever it was) was responsive to the pressure to get them into work on time, to the extent that specific moves were made to ensure that their journey was timely. One of the ways they did that was to allow the train to travel a little faster than other trains on curves (it derailed on a curve). By taking a ‘quick fix’ solution, yet ignoring the heavier problem of track maintenance, on time running was being put before safe operating. Why? Because the commuters who travelled the track had enough political importance to make the speed of their train become a government concern. It was their will that was putting the pressure on the govt to do whatever it could to avoid delay. But was the govt acceding to public pressure on one hand and failing to maintain its long term responsibilities on the other? That’s always a fatal combination. Accidents don’t just happen, the potential for the accident usually exists for a long time beforehand, and it is only a matter of time before an unfortunate spark lights the flame, resulting in disaster.
The two interurban lines, ie central coast and blue mountains, have always had pressure maintained on government through the marginal seats that they created (less marginal these days) and reports of lateness do a lot of political damage
Don’t you think it is ironic that one of the trains the govt were most keen to have running reliably and expediently ends up in disaster? I don’t see that as an unrelated coincidence. And if this line had a long history of maintaining pressure on the govt, how come the train was so old, dirty and worn down, and the track maintenance so poor? There seems to have been an obvious and therefore easily admissible root of maintenance failure, but on the other hand, the need to avoid lateness was inevitably going to put pressure on the driver to keep his speed high, even in a situation that might otherwise have called for a decrease in speed.
Looking at it from a more political/social angle, was this accident more than just a clash between a train and a support that held a bridge, causing the bridge to fall on the train with devastating results. Was it also a reflection of the clash between society’s drive to keep moving forward without due consideration for the support that holds the system in place? In that sense society itself is responsible and scapegoating drivers is a futile exercise. The point in relation to Glenbrook and other accidents over there and over here, is that lessons don’t just have to be learned, they have to be remembered.