Safety management is a process in which the risk of damage and harm to a person is identified and necessary policies are developed to maintain a proper environment at workplace (Glendon & Clarke, 2016). Moreover, safety management is the processes, procedures, structure, resources and people of an organisation required to attain the objective of the safety management policies. In the safety and risk management process, the hazards are identified using risk identification and risk assessment techniques in order to keep the employees and other stakeholders safe from the operations of the organisation (Bramson, 2009). However, it is important to note that lack of attention, casual attitude of the employees and breaches of safety policies may lead to different types of hazards at workplace. Hence, it is important for the management to identify, implement, ensure and monitor the safety policies effectively in order to maintain a safe and healthy environment at workplace. On the basis of the above facts, the case study of Granville train crash can is Australia has been identified in order to evaluate the factors leading to safety breaches and occurrence of one of the largest disaster in the history of Australian Railway. Furthermore, the paper presents the changes in the railway safety policy implemented by the Australian Railway Ministry in order to avoid the occurrence of railway disaster in the future
Granville train crash can be identified as the most unfortunate rail disaster in Australia. On January 18, 1977, a Sydney-bound train derailed in Granville suburb, New South Wales (Duncan, 2017). The Granville train disaster took place when a commuter train derailed and hit the supporting pillars of a road bridge resulting in collapsing the bridge over the train near Granville station. Due to the collision, 470 tonnes of the concrete section of the bridge collapsed over the carriages three and four of the train. According to the reports, 84 people were killed and 213 were injured in the most tragic train accident in Australia (Bell, 2017).
Evidently, two of the carriages of the locomotive hit severely as the entire mass of the steel and concrete bridge rained over them. In order to rescue the injured passengers, the rescue team faced significant challenges as leaking gas had forced not to use oxy-acetylene cutting tools. The efforts of the emergency rescue crew were highly appreciated following the rescue operations. In the meanwhile, the most tragic train crash in the Australian history has provided crucial lessons to be followed so that such nasty mishaps can be avoided (Hudoklin & Rozman, 2012).
Reason for the accident
The aftermath of the tragic accident was important because it was essential to investigate the reason behind the train crash. In February 1977, an inquiry commission was set up under the supervision of the then NSW District Court Chief Judge. According to the reports of the inquiry team, it was revealed a number of reasons were involved that were collectively contributed to the unfortunate train accident (Duncan, 2017). Shockingly, the report clarified that the Bold Street Bridge was previously hit by derailments at the same section before. In spite of such derailments, lack of proper actions led to the tragic mishap. Also, the report stated that the condition of the railway track was so unsatisfactory. Moreover, the track was badly aligned and it had stretched wider than standard gauge causing the derailment of the train.
However, the subsequent inquiries had pointed out that lack of investment in the track maintenance and ageing infrastructure as the primary reason. Apart from that, the manual mistakes were pointed out as well. Precisely, high turnover of employees, as well as lack of standard track inspection process, can be identified as other contributing agents to the train crash. Other than the primary factors, some of the secondary contributing reasons can be shown that are related to the accident. According to the investigation of the inquiry team, the structure of the road bridge was a reason, to say the least (Duncan, 2017). During the construction of the bridge, the extra concrete material was added to increase the road level. Herein, the extra weight of the bridge contributed massive destruction as well.
Lessons learned from the accident
The incident of Granville Train Crash brought up several lessons for the Public Transport Commission. Furthermore, it made the government realised the need for safety and risk management policies and the importance of proper investigation of the railway track’s conditions after every small interval of time (Duncan, 2017). Additionally, another point that was raised after the accident is the efficiency of the disaster management team. It can be seen from the case study that the last person was taken out from the collapsed compartment after 36 hours of the accident. Hence, the faulty safety measures and poor efficiency of the post-disaster management system had been a major reason for the loss of life of 83 people in the incident.
Another lesson that is important for the Public Transport Commission is the proper management of workforce. It can be seen through the case study that high turnover of the employees had been one of the major reasons for the breach of safety measures (Macfarlane & Hope, 2014). Hence, the Public Transport Commission must keep in mind that the employees are trained regarding the safety measures and policies in order to avoid any sort of railway disaster in the future (McDonald, 2017). A proper management of the employees can be helpful to properly identify the safety hazards and implement the safety policies effectively.
Policy changes and implementation of the policies
Since the Granville train crash, the government of Australia has changed the entire set of safety guidelines for public transport (Wullems, 2011). Evidently, the defects discovered after the inquiry must have been identified and rectified. The Public Transport Commission of Australia was restructured after the tragic event so that high employee turnover cannot affect the standard inspection procedure of railway tracks (Wang & Liu, 2012). The Public Transport Commission made necessary changes in the Human Resource Management strategy to reduce the employee turnover rate in the track inspection department. New employee training policies have been introduced in order to make the workers aware of the risk identification techniques and proper render their duties to make the public transport safer for the people (Robinson, 2009).
Although not a single person was directly charged, substantial safety policies and guidelines were introduced since then. Under the reforms, the government of Australia found that budgetary constraints could be identified as a major factor (Silla & Luoma, 2012). Therefore, recommendations were published to allocate regular funds to modify the infrastructure. Precisely, the government forced to increase rail-maintenance spending so that public transports can become safer for the commuters (Duncan, 2017). After the incident, the Australian Government increased the allocated budget for railway infrastructural development. Under the railway improvement plan, the Wran government allocated AU$ 200 million after the accident to restructure the entire infrastructure of the Railways (Duncan, 2017). The allocated funds have been used to rebuild the Bold Street Bridge and several other bridges that have been found to be in poor condition. Furthermore, the allocated fund has been used to train the employees regarding the new safety policies and hazard identification techniques in order to improve the current safety and risk management process.
In the meantime, Granville train crash was a life-long lesson for the safety and security department of Australia. The policymakers have voted for rail safety measures to be followed strictly. In case of safety breach, fines have been recommended. To improve the railway safety, The Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) was established under the Rail Safety Law Act 2012 (Onrsr.com.au, 2017). It is the responsibility of the ONRSR to oversight rail safety in every Australian state. The risk-based approach of ONRSR was introduced to improve rail safety. In order to optimise the performance of the Railways, the ONRSR is dedicated to develop the system networks. By using modern safety equipment, the ONRSR is aimed to increase the commuters’ safety. Also, the Australian Railways has developed emergency task forces to deal with the accidents so that rescue operations can be started immediately without any delay (Li, Zheng & Liter, 2017). The emergency task forces are trained with disaster and crisis management technique to take care of the severe incidents. Additionally, the new rescue task force is assigned with psychologist to take care of their psychological needs during the disaster management.
By considering the analysis of the Granville Train Crash case study, it can be seen that poor management of the employees and high turnover of the track inspection workers have been a major factor leading to the safety policy breaches. However, the incident provided the Public Transport Commission and the Australian Government with different lessons that have been considered in order to introduce policy changes in the safety and risk management of public transport. Furthermore, necessary policy reforms have been introduced by the Government to effectively identify the hazards and implement, ensure and monitor the safety management policies for healthy and safe journey of the people through Australian Railway Transportation System.
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