Today marks the 40th anniversary of Australia’s worst rail disaster, the day in 1977 when a morning train derailed near Granville station, in western Sydney, demolishing a nearby bridge which crushed two of the train’s carriages and the commuters and families within.
Recently, it’s thought a pregnant woman was among the victims. Today mourners lit an extra candle for her unborn baby, acknowledging an 84th victim.
The bridge was closed and roses were thrown on the tracks to commemorate those who died, a ceremony known as the Day of The Roses, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Chief Inspector Gary Raymond APM, OAM (Retired) was a young member of the Police Rescue Squad which responded to the train derailment and bridge collapse.
In a statement today he remembered the horror of the wreckage, and the agony and desperation of those who were crushed.
“Some of the people who died in there still had playing cards in their hands, some still had papers in their hands, some were playing board games when the bridge came down,” he recalled. “You reflect on the sadness of those who were on their way to work...it was school holidays.”
For 40 years, survivors and their families have felt the disaster was overlooked by the NSW government. There was no moment of silence and no aplogy, even after investigations revealed that ageing, under-maintained infrastructure was responsible for the tragedy.
But this week, Mike Baird pledged to give the families of those who died the respect and apology they deserve.
“When parliament resumes we will come together to pause, to reflect and to say sorry for something that is well overdue,” he told those gathered at today’s ceremony.