Passengers evacuated after train fire at Lawson

The Office of Transport Safety Investigations, the NSW Government regulator, is investigating a fire on a train at Lawson last Wednesday.

About 60 people were evacuated from the train as it was coming into Lawson Railway Station. Passengers alerted thetrain guard after seeing smoke in one of the rear carriages. That guard was later taken to hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation.

Emergency services quickly extinguished the blaze after being called to the station on Wednesday night, March 7. NSW Fire and Rescue crews from Lawson, Wentworth Falls and Springwood, along with NSW Ambulance and NSW Police were among those at the scene.

The electrical fire broke out in the top of the carriage at the rear of the four car train, Springwood Fire and Rescue posted on their Facebook page.

“The electricity was shut down by railway staff and the fire extinguished by crews, a thermal imaging camera [was] also used to check for fire extension.

“No persons [were] injured and 60 people were evacuated from the train, a bus was organised to convey passengers onwards.”

One of the passengers, Garry Maxfield of Leura, told the Gazette “the train was just leaving Hazelbrook when smoke started to appear in the rear cabin”. 

“No-one in the carriage panicked; some of us started to look for the source; could not find anything so we banged on the door of where the guard was to inform him.”

He said by the time the train reached Lawson “there was a lot of smoke; a burning plastic smell”. 

“The train slowed down coming into Lawson at 10pm we approached Lawson, the guards made the announcement “everybody off the train”.

Mr Maxfield said the Police and Fire Brigade were there shortly after and “put the flames out quickly”.

He queried why the trains do not have smoke detectors but a NSW Trains spokesperson said there was “no requirement to retrospectively fit smoke alarms in older trains”.

The NSW Trains spokesman said the incident was a minor fire to the rear carriage of a NSW TrainLink V-set.

“Customers were evacuated while emergency services carried out initial inspections. The fire was contained within the equipment compartment, away from passenger areas. 

The train has been towed to Flemington Maintenance Centre for further investigation by OTSI. 

“No customers were injured and the train guard was taken to hospital as a precaution for smoke inhalation. 

The spokesman said “the New Intercity Fleet will be designed and built to meet the latest rail industry fire and safety standards, such as smoke detection”. 

The fire occurred the same day NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said people in the Blue Mountains deserved better trains than the old V-sets.

"They’re a 40-year-old train, they’re not as reliable and they’re not world class," he said.

"They certainly don’t provide ... a comfortable journey for our passengers."