RailCorp prosecuted over track worker's death

Never had a hope ... CCTV of the train about to strike Tamati Grant,
Never had a hope ... CCTV of the train about to strike Tamati Grant,

Railcorp is being prosecuted for the first time in its history by the state's transport safety watchdog, following the death of a track worker struck by a train at Kogarah.

Tamati Grant, 59, died attempting to scramble clear of a southbound train from Hurstville just after 1am on April 13, 2010.

The fatality was attributed to the failure of a RailCorp employee, an area controller, at the train operator's Sydenham signalling complex to alert Mr Grant's cleaning team of the impending arrival of the train.

The Independent Transport Safety Regulator has confirmed it is prosecuting RailCorp and the area controller for breaches of the Rail Safety Act, 2008.

It is unclear what charges will be levelled against RailCorp, the operator of Sydney's CityRail system, or the area controller, who no longer works for RailCorp.

A 2010 prosecution of the Australian Rail Track Corporation, which manages freight lines around the country, resulted in a $200,000 fine. Under the Act, individuals can face jail terms of up to two years.

The report into Mr Grant's death by the Office of Transport Safety Investigations outlines a series of errors and breaches of protocol.

A crucial error, according to the report, took place when the area controller at Sydenham told the leader of Mr Grant's cleaning team that signal blocks were on, which would have prevented any trains from passing through Kogarah while they were on the tracks.

The blocks were not on, and by the time the area controller realised his mistake, the train was almost to Kogarah. Mr Grant's co-workers escaped onto the adjacent tracks.

The Office of Transport Safety Investigations made 10 recommendations to RailCorp as a result of the death, and three to the contractor Mr Grant worked for, Swetha International.

In the months prior to the incident, the area controller had been on sick leave, being treated for "psychological conditions and drug rehabilitation", and had wanted to call in sick on April 12.

Separately, the transport safety regulator has started proceedings against the Australian Rail Track Corporation over the death of a track worker at Newbridge, near Bathurst, in May 2010.

The proceedings against RailCorp are listed for mention in the Industrial Court of NSW on December 13, while the proceedings against the area controller are listed for hearing before the Chief Industrial Magistrate between March 4 and 13.

RailCorp confirmed it had not been sued by the transport safety regulator before.

This story RailCorp prosecuted over track worker's death first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.