Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Trust Me. I'm from the government.

There are just so many things wrong here. From The Age.

A FAULTY train and problems with its emergency intercom contributed to the death of a passenger who was killed after he forced open doors and became trapped outside, a government safety report has concluded. Is it worth risking the ire of fellow passengers because you were too slow getting off the train?

The man was dragged under the train and the driver continued for a further 1.1 kilometres before becoming aware of what had occurred.

On October 20, 2009, Peter Johnston, 36, forced open doors on the rear carriage of a Frankston-bound train as it left Melbourne Central station around midnight.

He had taken the prescription drug Valium and had been drinking cask wine over an extended period with a friend on the train shortly before the accident happened. That would do it.

Mr Johnston forced open the train door, and his friend leapt from the train but tripped, sustaining minor injuries. Mr Johnston followed, but he too slipped and got stuck in the train door. Two fools for the price of one.

''The door closed and the man was left in a seated position on the platform edge, with his body against the side of the car,'' a report into the incident, completed late last year by the state government's rail safety investigator, Ian McCallum, found.

''He was dragged along the platform with his right leg extended in front and holding a bottle in his right hand. He slid on his buttocks in this position for the remaining length of the platform until striking a safety handrail post [and then falling] beneath the train.'' He got his priorities right and did not spill a drop.

The report found the train would have been travelling at more than 50km/h when Mr Johnston struck the handrail.

The train driver, who had 23 years' experience, did nothing wrong, the report concluded, because he had received no warning that the door was stuck open. Nothing more wrong than being a train driver who has to deal with idiots.

A safety mechanism on the train was meant to alert the driver - via a flashing blue light on his dashboard - that the door had been forced open or had been obstructed. But it failed to work, the report found, and ''did not provide a warning indication to the driver.'' We are getting serious here. What is the point of safety warning systems if they don't work?

Had the warning system worked, the driver might have stopped rapidly, the report found. Wouldn't the system stop the train if doors were forced open?

At the time of the accident, the report notes, ''no daily process existed to check the integrity of the door monitoring [system] prior to a train entering service''. Safety checks should be obligatory I would have thought.

The incident happened while Connex was running Melbourne's rail system, and 43 days before Metro took over.

Connex, the report found, was aware of the defect on Comeng trains that could lead to drivers being unaware if doors were not properly shut. But ''there was no daily pre-service procedure to check for such a fault condition''. The train company was quite aware of the problem.

A Metro spokeswoman said door warning systems on every Comeng train were now tested every time a new driver boarded a train. Why was it ever not like this?

While the intercom in the carriage where the man was trapped did work, so many passengers pressed it at once to talk to the driver that he could not hear what they were saying. ''The repeated pressing of the passenger emergency intercom by the passengers resulted in the constant sounding of the alarm tone in the driver's cabin,'' the report found. That is what happens in an emergency, unless there is someone talented who can quickly take control. Why would the driver need to receive multiple alarms anyway? The first one should be enough. Did anyone really think this alarm system through and what would happen when a serious incident occurs? You are not going to get one calm and rational person press the button and speak clearly to the driver. I think this is the most serious matter the report found.

The CCTV in the carriage also failed to provide the driver with a view of the incident because, the report found, it had earlier been obscured by three youths travelling on the train. Just gets worse and worse.

A coronial inquest into Mr Johnston's death is scheduled for May.

What a amazing series of events. As the article states, a different train company now runs our trains. Thank goodness for that. The old company clearly wasn't great at protecting idiots from themselves. Of course much as our state governments like to have a private companies to shift blame to, ultimately the government is responsible for the safety of our rail system.


  1. Miss O'Dyne will support me on this. After you left the train at our last meeting, we had two brats who kept the doors from closing after leaving the station. In the finish the train stopped and a loud voice told them to stop or they would be put out at the next station. They made the train late and Miss O'Dyne missed her bus connection at Frankston. I think everyone in the carriage would have liked to have thrown them out without the train stopping.

  2. This would never have happened to Thomas the Tank Engine.

  3. A Metro spokeswoman said door warning systems on every Comeng train were now tested every time a new driver boarded a train. Why was it ever not like this?
    Good point, I find it ridiculous that a vehicle carrying that many passengers is not routinely checked before it comes into service each day. Glad they do it now though.

    Maybe the intercom system that is pressed first should get priority and cancel out the use of all others?

  4. The sad thing is that the train driver did nothing wrong, was never in the wrong, yet the poor bugger is probably feeling like crap that it happened on his train and possibly has PTSD.

  5. Yeppers Jahteh, she told me. It was a decent wait for the next one. I don't understand why when the bus service further along does not 'connect' with the train.

    Brian, the drunken scum were all edited out of Thomas.

    First press of emergency intercom Fen. How sensible.

    Jayne, some just shrug it off, others are traumatised. The victim was just a fool who needed protecting from himself. Worse are the ones who deliberately suicide.

  6. the gene-pool is better for the deletion of this idiot.
    I have great sympathy for the driver.

    Jahteh reminds me that the aggravation of everybody in the carriage that day was palpable, but nobody was brave enough to admonish 2 very bad looking youths. They have probably bred some baby bonus brats by now. shudder.
    Frankston is a complete cesspit of non-humanity.

  7. Emstacks, at times I could cry when I see young people as you describe with a baby in a pram. The poor kid doesn't have a chance in hell.

  8. Andrew you should see the bullshit the authorities dragged out to explain away don's death - in the end it appeared we should be apologising to them for causing so much trouble - I fear no one will be accountable but hope to be proved wrong

  9. Keep on at them MC.