By Peter Douglas
Dangling your feet over the sides of Puffing Billy will be no longer permitted – at least temporarily as a thorough investigation takes place.
After the Tuesday 6 February incident, in which a minibus and Puffing Billy collided, the Puffing Billy management team has decided to undertake a comprehensive internal review, which will focus on ‘why’ and ‘how’ the incident occurred.
During this period, Puffing Billy Railway has confirmed the common practice of sitting on the sides of the carriages, which is synonymous with travel on the tourist drawcard, will not be allowed.
The timeframe for this review is not yet known.
General Manager Operations, Nadine Hutchins, said management had opted for their own review, in addition to those expected from VicRoads and emergency services.
“I just want to reiterate it’s a temporary measure while the investigation is taking place,” she said.
“We’ve appreciated all the support we’ve had from the community – as to what happened – and anticipate ongoing support.
“We’re also proud of the way our team came together under the circumstances and worked cohesively with emergency services.”
Ms Hutchins said this incident was a first for Puffing Billy Railway, which was one of the reasons behind the decision to conduct an internal review.
One passenger was taken to hospital after the incident, when a bus carrying 15 passengers and Puffing Billy, carrying between 150 to 200 patrons, collided along School Road, Menzies Creek.
The bus had been travelling down a hill towards Menzies Creek.
Four people were treated at the scene, with patrons eventually being transported via bus to the nearby Belgrave Train Station.
In the collision, the third carriage of Puffing Billy was derailed, with a crane brought in to help place the locomotive back on the tracks.
Motorists in the area were encouraged to seek an alternate route.
Puffing Billy chief executive officer, John Robinson, said, thankfully, there were no serious injuries sustained.
“Safety is of the utmost importance at our iconic heritage steam railway and we have procedures in place to mitigate further damage and to ensure the continued safety of all passengers on the railway,” he said.
“We take great pride in our railway safety precautions and incident management plan, and are well-equipped to ensure incidents like these are handled with due diligence and with correct processes in place.”