Tuesday, August 8, 2023
A Victorian train driver who exposed his passengers, and those on another train, to the risk of a catastrophic collision while talking on his mobile phone has been fined $20,000 in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court.
The driver pleaded guilty to two charges under Rail Safety National Law following an incident that occurred between Tallarook and Seymour in May 2021.
The court heard that the driver was on his mobile phone for more than 45 minutes when he passed four extinguished signals, ultimately only avoiding a head on collision with another passenger train by approximately 530 metres.
In handing down her decision Magistrate Fran Medina highlighted the seriousness of the offences.
“It is apparent to me this is a significant breach of his duty as a train driver, in circumstances where the likelihood of significant incidents, including derailment or injury or death of passengers as a result of a head on collision between two trains may very well have been significant” she said.
ONRSR Acting Chief Executive, Peter Doggett said the court’s decision should act as a deterrent to drivers and rail transport operators alike and highlight the importance of stamping out avoidable distractions on the network.
“We welcome this decision and the message it sends that distraction for a train driver has the potential for devastating consequences,” he said.
“I’d encourage all operators and individuals to reflect on it and ensure they are doing the right thing and holding themselves to account.”