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Tourists jumped from path of runaway Sydney museum tram

May 22, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Visiting a Sydney tram museum is not exactly an adrenaline-pumping adventure experience – though it provided plenty of action for 16 tourists who had to jump from their tram as another tram, driverless, hurtled towards them on a collision course.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has released its investigation into the accident, which occurred in Loftus in Sydney’s south when a ‘J’ class tram, operated by the Sydney Tramway Museum, was parked on a downhill gradient using its air brakes with a hardwood chock applied under its wheel.

With no one aboard, the tram suddenly rolled away, heading towards another of the museum’s trams – a ‘Nagasaki’ class tram that was travelling in the opposite direction on the same line.

“Sighting the approaching ‘J’ class tram, the driver of the Nagasaki applied the emergency brake and instructed all 16 passengers to evacuate immediately,” the ATSB reported.

“All passengers and crew had exited the Nagasaki safely before the trams collided, with both trams sustaining minor damage.”

In line with the museum’s procedures, the runaway tram’s handbrake had not been applied when it was parked and when air released from its brake system, a single hardwood chock was left to restrain the tram’s movement, the ATSB found.

Sydney Tram Museum

Previously a softwood chock, which would deform and create a tight wedge, would have been placed under the tram’s front wheel, but the tram was able to roll over the hardwood chock.

The ATSB said its investigation into the 2016 incident highlighted the importance of ensuring that any changes to a risk-control process do not reduce that risk control’s effectiveness.

The investigation, conducted by the Office of Transport Safety Investigation on behalf of the ATSB, found that the hardwood chock was newly adopted and its use had not gone through a change management process.

As a result of the investigation, the museum has taken a number of proactive safety measures, including making the application of handbrakes mandatory, and taking steps to ensure that trams are parked securely on level track.

The investigation also highlights the importance of ensuring that any changes to a risk-control process do not reduce that risk-control’s effectiveness.

The old days. Sydney trams

The Sydney Tram Museum has not seen such drama since. The museum, offering “a step back in time” has been a much-valued family attraction in the Sutherland Shire for over 50 years, located at Loftus next to the railway station and entirely run by volunteers.

Sydney’s Trams were an important part of everyday life for over 80 years until 1961. Visitors can experience them at the museum, which houses a wide selection of Sydney Trams, plus an interstate collection of trams from Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Ballarat, and Bendigo, as well as trams from overseas including San Francisco, Nagasaki, Munich, Milan and Berlin.

Edited by Peter Needham

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