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Media Release – Safety too high a price for Government in Newcastle Light Rail deal

The lack of important safety features on Newcastle’s proposed new light rail cars has raised concerns that the NSW Government is trying to cut costs at the expense of passenger safety.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) Tram and Bus Division Secretary, Chris Preston said the Spanish-made CAF Urbos trams lacked anti-collision safety devices that monitor track conditions and maintain safe operation.

“The NSW Government is purchasing the same trams for Newcastle that currently run on the Inner West Light Rail which lack Automatic Train Protection (ATP) – a device that stops trams from over running red light signals, slows down trams if speed is an issue, and reduces the possibility of accidents,” Mr Preston said.

“Despite Sydney’s old tram fleet having ATP installed, when the new Urbos cars came into service it was discovered that the government had cuts costs by not including this simple, but important device. Now they’re doing the same thing in Newcastle.

“It’s not acceptable that the NSW Government is saving money by skimping on passenger safety.

“Since the new Urbos trams have been operating in Sydney there has been a dramatic increase in instances of trams crossing red light signals and other ‘signal passed at danger’ incidents that could have been avoided if Automatic Train Protection devices were in place.”

With rail systems around the world installing ATP as a matter of course, the union says that the NSW Government should not purchase a new light rail fleet without this important feature.

“The government has made this major purchasing decision without any consultation with drivers or the community, but the union calls on the Minister for Transport to commit to ensuring that all new trams in Newcastle have ATP installed,” Mr Preston said.

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