Work to begin on level crossing upgrades

Planning to begin on upgrading Queensland's level crossings after report recommends action to reduce level crossing incidents

Planning will next week begin on upgrading Queensland’s level crossings after a report recommended action to reduce level crossing incidents.

Detailed planning for work at the eight sites will be funded by a $10 million package and will include stakeholder consultation with parties including Main Roads, Queensland Transport and local authorities.

The move follows Queensland Rail’s (QR) release last week of a priority list of eight crossings the QR Level Crossing Task Force recommends need to be upgraded.

Of the upgrades recommended, five are on the Bruce Highway, two near Innisfail and one near Mackay.

The task force also recommended local committees should determine the type of safety protection at the level crossings, such as whether to install boom gates, rumble strips, sighting improvements or surveillance cameras.

Minister for Transport John Mickel says the Government may consider other initiatives identified by the taskforce, including lowering the speed limit at level crossings on major highways and installing cameras to allow authorities to catch and fine offenders.

Mickel says the taskforce inspected more than 500 crossings in recent weeks and consulted extensively with stakeholders to develop ways to reduce level crossing accidents.

"Six deaths have occurred since June 2008 - five of them in North Queensland - compared to a yearly average of two deaths and no deaths in the whole of the 2007," he says.

QR last month formed the task force in response to the level crossing accident near Cardwell in lat November in which two train drivers died. The task force is also made up of safety and operational experts, train drivers and rail unions.

"The spate of recent accidents was a major concern for QR, especially for our train drivers and our passengers," QR Acting Chief Executive Deborah O’Toole says.

"QR saw an urgent need for additional funding and the task force took account not only of engineering assessments but the views of frontline people and local communities."

Mickel says there must be a collective approach from the transport industry, authorities, motorists and local communities to improve level crossing safety.

QR Taskforce’s work in providing an overlay to level crossing safety assessments will now be extended to other parts of Queensland.

A pilot rollout of QR safety surveillance cameras will also continue during 2009 at selected crossings where multiple infringements and near misses have been reported.

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