Two local police officers were the first on the scene after being notified that an automatic alarm from the driver’s cabin had been registered in Sydney’s Central Station.
Firefighters and other emergency service workers followed soon after, but dense bushland hampered rescue efforts and equipment had to be carried by hand 1.5 kilometres to the disaster scene.
Since 1988 more than 30,000 of the state’s 45,000 rail jobs have been axed and maintenance and service facilities corporatised and cutback.
Carr moves into political damage control NSW Labor Premier Bob Carr, whose government faces election on March 22, quickly moved into political damage control over the crash.
The two rear carriages tipped over on their sides before the train came to a halt.
Those killed included the 53-year-old train driver Herman Zeides and six passengers, some of whom were thrown from the vehicle during the crash.But according to ABC-TV’s , there have been more than 30 rail defects near Waterfall in recent months.Some passengers have said the train was travelling at high speed.These suggestions, however, have not been fully investigated and are contradicted by rail authority information that the train was on schedule.The rail guard on the train, who has spinal injuries, has been not interviewed as yet.Rescue workers found dazed and injured passengers trapped in the wreckage or lying beside the rail line, with cabling, pieces of carriage, glass and personal belongings scattered around the accident site.The last survivor was cut free from the wreckage some three hours after the crash.“[I]t’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that it [the train] could have been going up to 100 km/h,” Gleeson said.Two days later, a editorial declared, without a shred of evidence, that “on-board human failure [was] the likely cause” of the derailment.This includes a major derailment at Hexham on July 12 last year when nine people were injured after a passenger train travelling from Newcastle to Maitland, a few hundred kilometres north of Sydney, collided with a derailed coal train. A third train heading towards the derailment site was alerted at the last minute, narrowly averting a three-way collision.The Carr government’s breakup of the State Rail Authority into three separate stand-alone commercial entities in 1996 has been a key factor in ongoing number of rail accidents in NSW.