21 August 2023

'Advanced safety feature' forces Perisher Skitube riders to evacuate, Thredbo chairlift back up and running

| Claire Fenwicke
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people inside skitube tunnel

Passengers were forced to evacuate after their Skitube stopped in the tunnel. Photo: Joshua Barnett/Facebook.

Snow-goers have been forced to abandon their ride home after the Perisher Skitube stopped inside the tunnel.

About 9:42 pm on Saturday (19 August), skiers and snowboarders had to be evacuated when the train’s safety features kicked in.

There had been suggestions the train’s brakes had failed, but Skitube manager Luke Rickards said this wasn’t correct.

“There was no failure related to the braking system – they operated as designed to ensure safety … the downhill Skitube train had an air leak, which resulted in the brakes being automatically applied due to low air pressure,” he said.

“This is an advanced safety feature of the train.”

Mr Rickards said the train driver was able to isolate the leak, with another tube sent up the tracks to pick everyone up.

“[This was] so they didn’t have to wait for the air pressure to build back up again,” he said.

“Passengers were transferred between trains and continued on their journey to Bullocks Flat and normal operations resumed.

“We thank everyone on the Skitube for their patience and are proud of our team for rectifying the situation safely and quickly.”

train inside skitube tunnel

Another Skitube was sent up the tracks to get everyone home. Photo: Joshua Barnett/Facebook.

Snow-goer Joshua Barnett posted about the incident on a local Facebook group, describing it as “quite the experience” and saying it wouldn’t deter him from taking the tube next time.

“I think it’s a great service compared to waiting for a park for 2 hours by driving,” he wrote.

“Stuff happens but we were honestly down the mountain within 30 mins.”

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It’s not the only incident that occurred on the ski slopes at the weekend.

Three people were injured when their chairlift at the Thredbo ski resort detached from cables and plummeted onto the mountain on Saturday afternoon (19 August).

A Thredbo spokesperson said the isolated incident on the Kosciuszko chairlift was caused by a “freak gust of wind”, and that no other chairs or people were impacted.

“Thredbo assures guests that their safety is paramount and that we will continue to apply our high standards of safety and risk management,” they said.

The chairlift was reopened on Sunday (20 August) following independent engineering inspections.

SafeWork NSW is investigating the incident.

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Chairlifts are defined as a ”passenger ropeway” under the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2017, with amendments coming into force at the end of 2022 for people who “manage or control” them.

Ropeways must only be operated by those who have been trained in their “proper operation”, with the new provision clarifying this must also include knowledge of how to carry out daily checks and operating the devices without passengers on board.

“The term ‘daily checks’ refers to the checks required to be carried out on the device on each day on which the device is to be operated, noting that the device may not be operated every day of the week,” the regulation states.

“The Amendment Regulation introduces new provisions for improved record keeping and operator training for amusement devices and passenger ropeways.”

This isn’t the first time a chairlift has dislodged at Thredbo.

In 2019, a skier walked away with minor injuries after his chair fell from the Gunbarrel Express.

The same chairlift was involved in an incident in 2016, when an empty chair fell into the snow.

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