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IT HAS been 39 years since the packed, early morning train derailed as it approached Granville station causing Australia’s worst rail disaster.
Survivors, rescuers and families of victims today joined politicians for the annual memorial service in memory of the 83 men and women who lost their lives that day.
On January 18, 1977, the Mt Victoria to Sydney train derailed at Granville at 8.10am.
The derailment brought down the Bold St bridge onto the carriages, with most of the fatally injured dying instantly. More than 213 were badly injured in the accident.
The heat had buckled the railway tracks, causing the derailment, authorities have since stated.
Gerry Buchtmann led a party of volunteers at the scene and found “absolute devastation”.
More than 213 people were also badly injured in the accident Picture: Archive News LtdMr Buchtmann, who is also the spokesman for the Granville Memorial Trust, was right in the thick of things that morning pulling survivors and bodies from the wreckage.
“I was under the front of the third carriage rescuing people,” Mr Buchtmann said.
“I have no idea how many people we helped that day, we were just doing the job we had been trained to do, alongside the police.”
Mr Buchtmann said that dealing with the situation was difficult, especially as the last person to be cleared from the wreckage was a friend of his.
“Even with the training that is a different kettle of fish,” he said.
“I was able to carry him out on a stretcher but he died just two days later.
“It was a privilege to have known the man and known his family.
“I still see his wife quite a bit as she lives in the same area.”
Barry Gobbe, one of the first ambulance officers on the scene, described the train crash as the “worst preventable disaster in Australian history”.
In a book published last year, Gobbe re-examined the cause of the disaster, which he claimed was swept under the carpet at the time.
Barry Gobbe, an ambulance officer on the scene, said the accident was preventable.The blame for the accident was attributed to the poor maintenance of the tracks and the structure of the bridge. But Gobbe said his research showed there was also a problem with the train.
“There was another maintenance issue they weren’t aware of to do with the train itself,” he said.
“It (the findings) was very well orchestrated to lay blame on some of the track workers not looking after the track.”
A ceremony will be hosted by the Granville Memorial Trust at Granville Town Hall at 11am.
After the ceremony in the town hall, guests will march to the memorial wall to lay wreaths. The event will end with the throwing of 83 roses onto the tracks to commemorate the dead.
The annual service is known as The Day of the Roses.
This article first appeared on www.dailytelegraph.com.au
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