Monday, May 15, 2023
The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) has this week charged a Victorian train driver who it alleges exposed numerous passengers and crew to the risk of death or serious injury by recklessly passing through multiple red signals while talking on a mobile phone.
The driver is facing three charges which allege breaches of sections 58(1) and 59 of the Rail Safety National Law (RSNL). The charges relate to a serious near-hit incident that occurred between Tallarook and Seymour in Victoria on 14 May 2021, which saw two passenger trains come within 500 metres of a head on collision.
ONRSR alleges that while on a phone call lasting approximately 49 minutes, the driver passed through several sets of red signals.
Ultimately the national regulator will assert that while distracted, the driver exposed his passengers and the passengers and crew on another train to the risk of a potentially catastrophic collision.
The matter is being pursued in the interests of rail safety as part of ONRSR’s role to enforce compliance with the RSNL, and in the public interest to provide for the safe carrying out of railway operations and promoting public confidence in rail operations.
Under the RSNL, the maximum penalty applicable to an individual for a breach of section 58(1) is a fine of $300,000, a period of five years imprisonment or both. For a breach of section 59(1), the maximum penalty is a fine of $150,000.
As the matter is now before the courts, ONRSR will not be making any further comment at this time.