A state-run company was formally accused of neglecting health and safety obligations, resulting in death.
The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) recently filed three charges after a 49-year-old man died in a coal train crash at Westwood, 45km west of Rockhampton.
“ONRSR will allege that Queensland Rail (QR) failed to comply with its safety duties as an accredited rail transport operator under Rail Safety National Law (RSNL),” a spokesperson said in a public statement.
“Under RSNL the maximum penalty applicable to a rail transport operator for breaches of this kind is $1.5 million per offence.”
The remarks came nearly two years after the QR light engine collided with an empty Aurizon coal locomotive at 44 km/h around 11:26am on 18 June 2021. The QR operator died while the co-driver and tutor driver were injured.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau was still investigating the incident at the time of publication. A preliminary report confirmed the locomotive and last nine train wagons were significantly damaged.
“QR remains deeply saddened by this incident and the loss of a colleague. We continue to support the family of the deceased as well as the other two drivers and their families,” the employer said in a public statement.
“We remain committed to operate a safe railway and to learn from this incident and do all that we can to prevent it from happening again. We want to ensure that when our people come to work, they work safe and go home safe.”
QR promised not to contest the prosecution and to work “proactively” with the National Rail Safety Regulator to “promptly” resolve the matter.
“We have worked cooperatively with the National Rail Safety Regulator (and other authorities) to improve rail safety and will continue to do so,” the company said.
“Since the incident QR has implemented a comprehensive program to improve safety on the network, including permanently codifying long-end leading restrictions into our safety and environment management system for all operators on the QR network, and signals passed at danger prevention activities.”