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TWO Hunter Valley coal train drivers have been stood down after posting pictures of themselves on social media with their feet up reading the newspaper while driving a train.
The two drivers were taking a train through a mine site loading coal, meaning the train was only moving slowly.
To compound their plight, at least one of the drivers boasted on social media of disabling or bypassing a "vigilance" button fitted in locomotives that needs regular pressing to stop the train being shut down.
Management of the rail company, Pacific National, became aware of the incident, and stood the men down.
In a statement to the Newcastle Herald, a company spokesman said: "We can confirm that two Pacific National train drivers have been stood down for alleged breaches of our operational safety procedures.
"We have interviewed the two employees involved and are currently working with the appropriate processes to finalise our investigation.
"The findings will be shared with the two employees in the coming weeks."
Rail, Tram and Bus Union organiser Steve Wright confirmed the incident and said there was little that he could do to protect people against such stupidity.
"Our position is that they didn't disable or bypass the vigilance button because it would require a seal to be broken and as far as we know that hasn't happened, but there's not much you can do if people go and post these things on the internet," Mr Wright said.
The Herald understands at least one picture was posted on a Facebook site with a description such as "another hard day at the office".
Another train driver then apparently asked online about the vigilance button and the response was that the drivers had disabled it.
Mr Wright confirmed that Pacific National had taken a data logger from the train and claimed that the data logger showed the vigilance button had indeed been bypassed as claimed.
Vigilance mechanisms of various sorts have been fitted to passenger and freight trains over the years in response to safety issues.
Mr Wright said that if the button was not responded to correctly, a mechanism kicked in that applied the brakes of the train.
Drivers have confirmed to the Herald that the mechanism can be bypassed if faulty but that a seal of some sort had to be broken, confirming the bypass.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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