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http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/rail-crossing-crash-preventable/2006/05/25/1148150360228.html


Rail crossing crash 'preventable'


A horrific collision between a truck and a train in south-west Victoria this morning may have been prevented had the State Government spent money on upgrading Victoria's level crossings, says the State Opposition.

Emergency services are still trying to recover the body of a man whose semi-trailer was crushed by a freight train near Lismore, 170km west of Melbourne, just before 7.30am.

Police say it is highly unlikely the truck driver could have survived. It is believed the driver is a 34-year-old man from Wedderburn, which is about 250 kilometres north of Lismore.

A spokeswoman for rail freight company Pacific National said the truck hit the side of the train and derailed two locomotives and 44 of the train's 64 goods wagons.

Liberal Party transport spokesman Terry Mulder said that the Bracks Government should have used some of the money spent on its rural fast rail project to improve level crossings in suburban and regional Victoria.

"The State Labor Government has wasted $750 million on fast rail projects," Mr Mulder told theage.com.au.

He said the government could have used a fraction of the money to upgrade suburban and rural level crossings.

The level crossing where this morning's accident occurred was located on the Lismore-Skipton Road. There are no boom gates, lights or bells to warn drivers of approaching trains.

Heavy fog was hampering efforts to clear the tracks and locate the truck driver's body earlier today. The crossing is protected only by give way signs, according to the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), the Federal Government body that owns and operates the interstate freight rail network.

Thirteen people have now been killed at level crossings across Victoria since October 2003.

Mr Mulder said that of Victoria's 2274 level crossings, 1468 were protected only by signs.

He said rural crossings had to be upgraded - not only because people were being killed - but because accidents caused huge problems for the nation's freight operations.

"Most of Perth's groceries come by rail across the Nullarbor," Mr Mulder said.

Prue Regan from the ARTC said the section of track where this morning's accident occurred connected Melbourne to Adelaide and Perth.

"Given the magnitude of the incident it is likely to be at least four days before the line is reopened," she said.

The ARTC is considering sending freight out of Melbourne to Adelaide and Perth via Parkes and Broken Hill in NSW as an interim measure.

Transport Minister Peter Batchelor said his government had already proven its commitment to improving the safety of Victoria's level crossings.

The Bracks Government had tripled per year funding for level crossings to $9 million, compared to the $3 million spent each year by the previous Victorian Government Mr Batchelor told theage.com.au.

The Government had committed an extra 67 per cent - or $160 million over the next decade - in its recent transport and liveability statement, Mr Batchelor added.

He refused to speculate on the cause of this morning's crash, saying several investigations already underway would provide a thorough explanation.

Under current laws, trains had the right of way at level crossings, he said.

"Vehicles approaching are required to give way," he said. "But as we don't live in a perfect world, we will spend the $160 million over 10 years to try and make those crossings safer."

theage.com.au

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About 60 km sth of the level-crossing accident that wiped out two brand-new Velocipede Units and two or three people last month. I'd include the photo here, which is both brilliant and horrendous, but I don't want to end up in Guatanamo Bay ... check the link.

One comment (and I don't want to offend anyone here) ... but if you can crash into the side of a train, well would flashing lights or boom-gates make any difference?
 

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Yeah i agree i dont know what the boom gates would do to stop one driving into the side of a 60+ car freight train. Lights could be helpful i suppose especially in bad weather. But prehaps public education would be more helpful? There are too many incidents like this it seems lately.
 

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^^The problem I heard was that there is no way of seeing with enough time for a truck to get across from a standing start before a train comes barrelling through. I don't think public education would work. I think just the lights would do the trick!
 

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I don't see what you would do in a public education campaign. Surprise, surprise, you can't drive a car through a train. Try it and you'll die.

Really, lights would be good. To think that anywhere, a level crossing is marked only by a sign, it's terrible. No wonder there's even the possibility of accidents happening. And it's fairly obvious that when there's an accident at a level crossing, the driver of the car is almost certainly going to die.
 

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Signs are perfectly fine. As at other country road intersections, drivers are expected to obey Stop or Give Way signs. It's clear that some drivers are too stupid to obey simple road signs. Their loss is of little consequence to the human race. It's only when they hurt others that I'm concerned about the need to improve signage.

To be quite honest, there are far more country road-road intersections that could use lights or other upgrades before you'd begin to look at adding lights to every piddly little road/rail crossing, even on the main MEL-ADE line (~10-20 trains per day). It's road-road intersections where dumbfuck truck drivers disobeying a give way sign have the potential to kill people other than themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
MrPC said:
Signs are perfectly fine. As at other country road intersections, drivers are expected to obey Stop or Give Way signs. It's clear that some drivers are too stupid to obey simple road signs. Their loss is of little consequence to the human race. It's only when they hurt others that I'm concerned about the need to improve signage.

To be quite honest, there are far more country road-road intersections that could use lights or other upgrades before you'd begin to look at adding lights to every piddly little road/rail crossing, even on the main MEL-ADE line (~10-20 trains per day). It's road-road intersections where dumbfuck truck drivers disobeying a give way sign have the potential to kill people other than themselves.
The only trouble is: look what happens when you hit a train ..

(courtesy "The Age")
 

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Yardmaster said:
The only trouble is: look what happens when you hit a train ..
Don't care.

It can be cleaned up in a week, and fixed a few days later. Trains can be rerouted around (it would have been better if Ballarat RFR had included gauge standardisation or at the very least gauge convertible sleepers). Coastal shipping ought to be able to pick up the rest (it probably helps with the rail operator is owned by a major stevedore). The goods damaged or otherwise lost can be replaced.

But most importantly, the truckies (drugged up or otherwise) get a reminder of what happens when they fall asleep or otherwise aren't paying attention to road signs.
 

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^But it isn't truckies who crash into trains, it's average people in their cars. Yes, they're idiots for obviously not paying any attention, but really, you can't stereotype truckies like that.
 

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Cars rarely cause trains to derail at level crossings. Only the heaviest of heavy trucks can really do damage. Most cars just get swept off to one side and get mangled somewhat as well.
 
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