Train operators fined over derailment that killed two

The XPT train derailment killed the driver and another rail worker.

The XPT train derailment killed the driver and another rail worker. Photo: AAP

Two train operators have been fined a total of more than $500,000 over a Victorian derailment that killed two men.

NSW Trains and the Australian Rail Track Corporation were charged with breaching the state’s rail safety laws after the XPT passenger train came off tracks north of Melbourne on February 20, 2020.

Experienced driver John Kennedy, 54, and rail worker Sam Meintanis, 49, were killed, while eight passengers were seriously hurt and 58 others sustained minor injuries.

NSW Trains and the ARTC in February pleaded guilty over the derailment, with their sentences handed down in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday morning.

The maximum penalty available to Magistrate Brett Sonnet was a fine of $413,000.

But Sonnet instead sentenced NSW Trains to a $150,000 fine, while ARTC has been ordered to pay $375,000.

Both train operators were also convicted.

The passenger train had been travelling from Sydney to Melbourne when it was diverted through the Wallan loop track because signalling was down on the normal route.

Instead of entering the loop section at the required 15km/h, the train was travelling at speeds of between 114km/h and 127km/h.

Prosecutor Sally Flynn KC previously told the court excessive speed caused the derailment, due to several factors including an inadequate risk assessment by the ARTC about the train’s diversion.

Kennedy was not aware before he began his train driving shift about changes to the route and there was no caution or speed signs to warn him as he approached.

Kennedy’s wife Jenny had to wait more than four hours before someone could confirm her husband had been killed.

She said the confusion and lack of communication made an already horrible situation unbearable.

Meintanis’ partner Naomi Bruce said her life changed forever when she lost her lover, best friend, confidante and supporter.

Both NSW Trains and the ARTC publicly apologised, through their lawyers, to the families of the victims during the plea hearing.


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