Since their invention, railways are regarded as the most efficient means of transport. Railway transport has always been the most economic environmentally sensitive and safest mode of transport. However, in the past few years, it has been noted that the accident rates have been increasing in the railway industry resulting in the need to institute the necessary changes. Safety in the industry has evolved to be more questionable. Initially, most of the accidents used to occur at the railway-road crossing (Rail Services Inc., 2018). Currently, one can hardly conclude that these points are the only risky zones as the accidents now occur even at the safest locations; at or near the railway stations. The increasing rates of accidents could be majorly blamed on the safety breaches either by the railway staff or external parties. While the railways could at times be below the set or required standards, the drivers too got an obligation to drive carefully to avoid accidents (RSA Rail, 2017). The blame does not always have to be on the contractors or the administration. In most cases, the two parties deliver their best, and the accidents still occur. As thus, risk management in the railway industry should adopt the nature of shared interest among all the parties involved.
The modern world is characterized by numerous hazards which are much likely to cause undesired effects. It is, therefore, necessary to come up with a comprehensive plan that could help manage the future risks. Risk management in the railway industry seeks to minimize the accidents which are likely to occur whether due to human error or technical issues (Beale, 2018). Risk management follows a well-defined procedure that has proved viable in previous cases. Firstly, the task force should identify the hazards or vulnerabilities that expose the railway industry to any threat or accident (An, Lin, & Huang, 2013). Secondly, the potential risk should be closely assessed. This help to determine the possible harm that the risk is likely to pose. The severity likely to occur from the vulnerability is assessed at this stage (Berrado, Cherkaoui, & Khaddour, 2011). Thirdly, the probability of the accident or threat occurring is evaluated. This helps to determine whether the risk lies within the acceptable range of risk limit (Leitner, 2017). If the threat surpasses the limit, the appropriate measures are implemented.
Trains are normally capable of accommodating large crowds of people. Hence, any accident that occurs threatens many lives contributing to heightened severity. The rising concern due to the accidents is also much likely to lead to the loss of market share to the other modes of transport (Walker & Strathie, 2015). The increased rates of accidents will automatically make people lose their trust in the industry. Travelers will end up preferring their safety over the low prices charged by the trains. Critically, no one would love to lead a miserable life just to save some little coins.
Australian citizens woke up to sad news on the 22nd of January 2018. At least 15 people were injured from the midmorning train accident. The train which was scheduled to stop at Richmond Station failed to break on arrival (Guardian staff and agencies, 2018). The accident was so fatal such that a witness said that the travelers went flying like a Superman. The train crashed into a buffer when the diver was slowing down to halt at the station. Some people had initially reported that the train was derailed a claim which was later dismissed. Howard, the Sydney Trains CEO reported that the train was stable on its rails. All the casualties from the incident were transported to the hospital while still in a considerably stable condition (Campbell, 2018). However, some of the patients had sustained major injuries including bone fractures. A woman aged 77 was injured o her collar bone and was also treated for spinal injuries. A man aged 22 years was also suspected to have broken his femur. Although no one was trapped inside the wreck of the train, the passengers suffered injuries.
Immediately after the accident, conflicting reports arose concerning the speed of the train. Eyewitnesses presented different claims with some saying that the train was over speeding. However, a section of the witnesses disqualified this claim arguing that the speed of the train was nothing more than 10 kilometers per hour. Those claiming that the speed was horrifying laid the blame on the driver while their counterparts remained unsure of what had caused the accident.
Later investigations on the accident revealed that the driver was driving at a speed of approximately 35 kilometers per hour. This was much acceptable as the set limit by then was 50 kilometers per hour. Additionally, the preliminary reports exposed that the driver was not new to the route and was experienced as a train driver (Australian Transport and Safety Bureau, 2018). He had the necessary qualifications and was under no drug influence. The hospital report also revealed that he was medically fit when the accident occurred. The report did not identify any problem with relation to the railway line or even the train itself.
Safety Breaches Leading to the Accident
Although there are continuing inquiries on the matter, it is quite justifiable that the accident occurred due to both human and mechanical error (Clun & O'Sullivan, 2018). Although the set speed while approaching stations was 50 kilometers per hour, it was a bit high. A speed limit lower than 30 kilometers per hour would be effective. If the driver had been a bit more careful with the buffers, the accident would have been prevented. Alternatively, if it had occurred, it would have caused much less harm. The driver should have lowered the speed even below 10 kilometers considering the fact that the train was heading to a stop.
The accident occurred after the failure of its brakes making it to crash into a buffer. The failed brakes are a sign of mechanical error within the train’s system (Hinze, Thurman, & Wehle, 2013). As much as the brakes are subjects to malfunction, it should not reach this extreme. Safer alternatives should be sought to resolve the occurrence of a similar issue in the future. The railways' authorities should have assessed the possible harm of the buffers before installing them. They should have assessed any possible harm likely to result from any possible malfunctions or failures.
The witnesses reported that the passengers had already risen to alight. This is also risky. Preferably, they should have stayed seated until the train halted. The excessive injuries caused could partially be blamed on this. It is a common trend for passengers to leave their sitting positions in a moving train in preparation to alight. However, this not recommended by the related safety measures. When the train crashed into the buffer, they were obviously nor stable enough increasing the harm.
Changes in Policy Resulting from the Richmond Train Crash
Several policies were adjusted following the train crash in Richmond. Firstly, the speed limit while approaching stations was reduced. This was perhaps the most notable and commendable implementation from the incident. Initially, trains were supposed to stick to the limit of 50 kilometers per hour which was changed to 20 kilometers per hour. The train line operations (Sydney Trains) were temporarily closed. The Richmond Station was also shut down following the train crash. Travelers in the area were to use alternative modes of transport with most of them opting for buses. Thorough investigations were launched to establish the cause of the fatal incident. The occupants of the train we adequately interviewed. The event recorders installed in the train were also seized for examination.
Implementation of the Policy
The speed limit policy is still applicable months after the train crash. This implies that Australia has been true to this implementation and it was not a short-lived policy. Although the Sydney Trains were later allowed back to their operations, the operators have always been keen not to violate any of the set policies. The Richmond station was also reopened but with all the appropriate changes installed. Since his incident, none of a similar nature has been witnessed again. This implies that the policies implemented are appropriate in the prevention of similar cases.
The case of the Sydney train accident is just one of the many railway accidents that have been happening in the past few years both in Australia and n the entire world. Accidents in the railway industry are incredibly costly not only in terms of resources but also the suffering of the victims and their relatives. Railroad equipment costs millions of dollars and thus the replacement costs the insurance companies a fortune. The suffering faced by the involved whether directly or indirectly is the most heartbreaking experience. The bodily injuries pain the victims, and at times they never recover fully. The people who lose their loved ones in the accidents either suffer denial or depression which lowers the quality of their lives. All these costs can be controlled by engaging Railroad risk management. This implies that a greater percentage of the railway accidents are generally preventable. All that the stakeholders have to do is to identify all the possible problems, address them and train the staff adequately.
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Clun, R., & O'Sullivan, M. (2018, January 22). Almighty bang': Passengers injured after train crashes into a barricade at Richmond station. Retrieved from Fairfax Media: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/people-injured-after-train-crash-at-richmond-station-20180122-h0lzg6.html
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