Charges after track death

11 January 2017

The Director, Transport Safety, David Hourigan, has charged rail operator Metro Trains Melbourne Pty Ltd (MTM) with breaching its rail safety obligations in relation to a fatal accident that occurred at Heyington station in 2014.

The incident occurred on 22 February 2014 when 18 year old Mitchell Callaghan attempted to board a departing city-bound train. The doors were being held open by a number of other passengers and, as the train departed, Mr Callaghan fell through the gap between the train and the platform. Mr Callaghan died as a result of his injuries.

The charges filed against MTM are:

  • breach of section 20 of the Rail Safety Act 2006 for failing to ensure the safety of its rail infrastructure operations (in relation to the gap between the platform and the train)
  • breach of section 21 of the Rail Safety Act 2006 for failing to ensure the safety of its rolling stock operations (in relation to installing indefinite interlocking traction delay to prevent trains from being moved with open doors).

While responsibility for the regulation of Victoria's heavy rail operations now rests with the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR), Transport Safety Victoria has investigated the incident pursuant to the Victorian law that existed at the time of the incident.

"As Victoria's transport safety regulator, my primary objective is to independently seek the highest transport safety standards that are reasonably practicable, and the filing of these charges is consistent with that purpose", Mr Hourigan said today.

"This has been a long and thorough investigation and I am satisfied that taking court action in this case is in the public interest.

"As the matter is now before the Court, it would be inappropriate for me to make any further comment at this time", Mr Hourigan added.

UPDATE: October 2018

In October, Transport Safety Victoria (TSV) lodged an application with the Supreme Court of Victoria seeking judicial review of the Magistrates’ Court decision on 31 July to dismiss the charges laid against Metro Trains Melbourne Pty Ltd (Metro) in 2017.

The charges under sections 20(1) and 21(1) of the Rail Safety Act 2006 (Vic) were dismissed by the Court on the grounds that the transport safety officer who commenced the proceeding was not authorised to do so.

TSV’s application for review contends that the Magistrate committed an error of law in his decision, and seeks that it be quashed and the charges remitted to the Magistrates’ Court for hearing and determination.

We believe that we have reasonable prospects of success in this case and that the application is in the public interest.

The matter has been listed for directions later this month.