Emergency training for V/Line conductors

CONDUCTORS on V/Line’s Albury-Wodonga service will get extra training in emergency procedures in response to the Kerang rail disaster.

This is expected to be rolled out across Victoria from next month and is just one of several responses from V/Line to a coronial inquiry into the crash.

Wodonga teenager Matthew Stubbs, 13, was one of 11 people who died when a truck driven by Wangaratta man Christiaan Scholl collided with a V/Line train on June 5, 2007.

Coroner Jane Hendtlass handed down her findings on the crash last October, although none of the 25 recommendations were in relation to Mr Scholl.

He was acquitted by a jury in 2009 after being charged with 11 counts of culpable driving.

V/Line’s response to six of Ms Hendtlass’ recommendations were received by the court on March 21 and published for the first time yesterday.

Also published were responses from several other organisations, including VicRoads and Victoria Police.

One of the coroner’s recommendations was that V/Line “provide train drivers and conductors with formal instruction and scenario practice events”.

That was so they understood their role as interim site controllers.

In reply, chief executive Theo Taifalos said V/Line had “to a large extent” already implemented this recommendation.

Mr Taifalos said the organisation’s emergency and crisis management plan included the role of an interim site controller and that V/Line had reviewed its training to clarify this role.

He said conductor training was being developed, including a module on emergency procedures.

“This module will be ready for rollout from May to June this year and will be delivered via a refresher course, including assessment.”

The number of first-aid supplies on the Albury service will also increase.

V/Line will increase the contents of its first-aid kits to include larger crepe bandages, burn-aid gel and disposable splinter kits.

It will also include two thermal blankets instead of one in each kit, which are carried by conductors.

V/Line has baulked at carrying specialist tools for all possible emergencies.

“The carriage of gas cutting equipment on trains is not permitted as the gas bottles pose a significant risk in their own right,” he said.

VicRoads said it would not adopt the recommendation that it and Standards Australia amend their standards to require warning signs and visibility of a train 131 metres before a level crossing.

“This recommendation was based on assessment of the braking distance involving the vehicle involved,” VicRoads acting chief executive Peter Todd said.

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