Legal bid to stop Metro from operating trains with no headlights

11 November 2014
Law firm Maurice Blackburn has launched a legal challenge to stop Metro from allowing passenger trains to run with no working headlights.

Under Metro’s current system for dealing with faults, a train with no working headlights is categorised as a “serious” rather than a higher level “critical” fault.

This means a train with no working headlights can operate for more than 20 hours a day before it is taken out of service.

The legal challenge, to be heard before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) this week, will argue the system is a safety risk for train drivers and the public.

Enrico Burgio, an associate in the industrial law practice at Maurice Blackburn, said the application would seek a ruling from VCAT that Metro’s fault levels should be upgraded to improve safety.

“Under Metro’s system, ‘ghost trains’ with no working headlights could be travelling on our tracks for more than 20 hours a day – including more than nine hours of darkness,” he said.

“It’s a no brainer - trains with defective headlights should be taken off the tracks immediately. Metro needs to stop cutting corners on safety."

Metro train driver and health and safety representative Jim Chrysostomou, the applicant in the VCAT challenge, said the case was about keeping drivers and the public safe.

“Making sure all trains have working headlights helps reduce the risk of accidents, and the risk of injury to drivers and the travelling public. The sooner a driver can see an obstruction ahead, the sooner they can react. Every second counts,” Jim Chrysostomou said.

Last year, Mr Chrysostomou issued a Provisional Improvement Notice (PIN) calling for defective headlights on trains to be categorised as “critical” rather than “serious” faults. Under Metro’s fault management system, a train with a critical fault must be removed from service as soon as possible.

WorkCover rejected the provisional improvement notice. The VCAT hearing, to begin tomorrow (Wednesday 12 November) is an appeal by Mr Chrysostomou against the WorkCover decision. The hearing is scheduled to run for eight days.

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