Department of Transport fails to act after years of warnings: City Loop safety slammed

Melbourne’s underground rail Loop is a disaster waiting to happen and the city’s busiest railway station had no effective fire plan until very recently, the state’s public sector watchdog has said.

In a report that has harshly criticised the Department of Transport for failing to act after years of warnings, acting Ombudsman John Taylor wrote that the department took ‘‘little effective action’’ to fix a host of safety problems in the Loop, despite receiving seven detailed engineering reports between 2001 and 2011.

Problems identified in the Ombudsman’s investigation, which was tabled in State Parliament today, include:

  • corrosion and cracking of concrete plinths supporting rail tracks
  • poor condition of the emergency walkways
  • corroded fire services, pipes and no smoke alarms
  • significant deficiencies in the ventilation systems
  • problems with driver-only communication in the event of a disaster or the driver being incapacitated.

In response, Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder today accepted ‘‘each and every one of the recommendations’’ the report contains on fixing the problems…

The Ombudsman’s investigation found that important safety infrastructure inside the Loop had not been properly maintained or renewed in the past decade, potentially putting many thousands of passengers at risk in the event of a disaster such as a fire.