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5-year-old boy's fall prompts review of train door safety
18/10/2012 - A report into how a five-year-old Queensland boy fell from a moving passenger train has found the door locks are easily opened and must be improved.
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The boy fell from the Sunlander passenger train south of Cairns in December last year.
Remarkably, he survived with just cuts and bruising and a passing motorist found him when he walked to the nearby Bruce Highway.
A Transport and Main Roads report, tabled in Queensland parliament, says it appears the boy operated a two-stage lock on the carriage door, and may have slipped on a floor wet from a drinking fountain.
"The first stage is labelled 'pull'. The second stage is a lever pulled down similar to many residential lever door handles," the report says.
"Investigators were able to open the door with one hand with minimal force required for either action.
"It is considered that a child would be able to open the door using two hands with little difficulty."
The report said the doors were not connected to a warning device to alert staff or drivers that an external door was open.
It recommended Queensland Rail look at engineering solutions to improve the safety of locking systems.
It said Queensland Rail had advised Sunlander rolling stock was being updated, and existing rolling stock to remain in service beyond 2014 will have a modern central door locking system installed.
The report also recommended a warning system to alert staff and drivers when an external door was open.
It noted safety improvements must be balanced with the requirement for passengers to escape in emergency situations.
The boy told police he was alone in the train vestibule where he opened a right hand exterior door, slipped on the wet floor and fell from the train.
He said he walked to the nearby Bruce Highway where a motorist stopped to help.
The child's mother, who had earlier warned him and his older brother not to play in that part of the train, raised the alarm when the older boy said he couldn't locate his brother on the train.
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