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THE transport safety watchdog has begun an inquiry into a train disruption in March that trapped commuters for several hours, and Railcorp's bungled investigation into the incident.
The news came yesterday as the State Government refused to guarantee that a section of the crucial Clearways program would proceed as promised in 2004.
The developments have coincided with the resignation of RailCorp's most senior spin doctor and the restructure of the organisation's communications department.
The Independent Transport Safety and Reliability Regulator (ITSRR) has begun a separate review into the March breakdown after revelations that staff in the control room at the heart of Sydney's rail network, the Rail Management Centre, failed to properly brief emergency services personnel as the drama unfolded.
The breakdown, and the way it was handled, represented a breach of one of the central recommendations of the inquiry into the 2003 Waterfall disaster, in which seven people died, the regulator said.
"ITSRR reviewed a RailCorp investigation report into a major disruption of the RailCorp network that occurred in March causing significant delays and necessitating the evacuation of passengers from stranded trains," it said in a report. "A number of issues that require further clarification and areas not specifically covered in the investigation report have been identified. As a result ITSRR has commenced its own investigation into the incident."
Meanwhile, the Minister for Transport, John Watkins, said he would consider a feasibility study into the duplication of tracks between Sydenham and Erskineville but he would not commit to the project.
The Opposition has accused the Government of quietly dumping the $190 million project after it obtained documents under freedom of information laws that showed the project had not been included in the budget.
A restructure of the RailCorp communications department was announced this week, after Tim Lloyd-George, the group general manager of communications, handed in his resignation on Monday. A RailCorp source said the restructure was linked to Mr Lloyd-George's failure to appear at an emergency meeting, called when a train broke down on the Harbour Bridge last month.
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