After 40 years, finally an apology

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Ross Hutchison at the Granville memorial. Photo: Melinda Jane

40 years on from Australia’s worst train disaster, an event that shocked the Penrith and Blue Mountains community, the NSW Government has issued a formal apology.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance apologised in the NSW Parliament to the victims of the Granville Train Disaster today.

The accident saw 83 people lose their lives and another 213 injured when a crowded Blue Mountains eight-carriage service was heading to the city.

It was 8.10am when the train left the tracks at Granville and struck the steel and concrete supports of the overhead Bold Street bridge which collapsed onto carriages.

Premier Berejiklian said the recent 40th anniversary of the January 18, 1977 disaster highlighted the need to formally apologise to the victims and their loved ones.

“I have no doubt that the pain people feel today can sometimes feel as raw and real as it was all those years ago,” Ms Berejiklian said.

The scene of the disaster

“The lifelong impact on survivors and the unimaginable grief felt by those who lost a loved one has never been formally acknowledged and this was long overdue.

“I hope that today’s apology helps the victims and their loved ones some way along their journey of healing. We also wanted to honour the first responders and everyday heroes who stepped up in the worst possible circumstances.”

Mr Constance said a significant commitment was made to invest in safety and emergency systems on the rail system following the Granville tragedy.

“There is nothing we can do to take that pain away, but we do offer our heartfelt apology to those people whose lives were irrevocably changed at Granville that day,” Mr Constance said.

Lindsay MP Emma Husar attended the apology with her mother, Narelle Dean, who survived the train disaster while pregnant with her daughter Amy.

Earlier this year, Penrith’s Ross Hutchison emotionally told the Weekender about how the Granville tragedy rocked his family 40 years ago.

His sister Cheryl was killed in the disaster when she was just 21-years-old.

“The fact that the Government is finally saying ‘yep we blew it’, it is about time,” he told the Weekender.

“Every day of my life it’s there, it would be a lot like that for many other people. It still lives with us.”

Emily Newton

Emily Newton is the Weekender’s police and political reporter. Emily is also the Weekender’s Senior Journalist.

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