Collision sparks calls for more action on level crossings


Fatal truck and train collision has reignited calls for more to be done to replace dangerous level crossings

By Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | November 5, 2012

A fatal truck and train collision at the weekend has reignited calls for more to be done to replace dangerous level crossings to prevent accidents.

One person was killed and nine others were taken to hospital on Saturday after a train collided with a truck at a Dandenong South level crossing in Melbourne.

There are 172 rail crossings in Melbourne, with 10 of them assigned for an upgrade, and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) says governments need to make replacing crossings with a record of accidents a "number one priority".

"Level crossings that do not have electronic warning devices need to have them fitted," ATA Government Relations Manager Bill McKinley says.

"The rollout of radio remote control devices and other tools for letting drivers know that there is a danger ahead needs to be accelerated. This is the point the ATA has been making for some time, including before Victorian parliamentary inquiries, and governments really need to take action."

McKinley says the investigation into the level crossing incident needs to be thorough and provide recommendations that governments can act on.

"In the meantime, everyone on the roads needs to understand the importance of stopping at level crossings. Trains cannot stop so the onus is on the road users to obey the law, stay safe and stop."

"The level crossing accident is a tragedy and our hearts go out to the injured train driver and the family of the passenger who was killed."

Transport Minister Terry Mulder told the ABC Radio talks are underway to see if the Victorian Government can "ramp up" the replacement of rail level crossings.

"We are having discussions about how we could possibly fund further numbers of level crossing upgrades. They are very expensive and they come between $150-200 million each," Mulder says.

"We have more trucks on the road and more cars on the road and we are running more trains, so the interface between motorists and trains is ever increasing."

The Government will reduce the speed limit to 80km/h near level crossings in a bid to reduce accidents, he adds.

Mulder says he is "dumbfounded" as to how the accident happened, but adds that there is always a risk of such an event occurring.

"What I understand is there were vehicles stationary on the western side of the crossing when the boom barriers were down and the lights were on and the truck approaching from the eastern side went through," he says.

RACV General Manager Brian Negus says better education needs to be provided to all road users about level crossings.

He says the motoring association also wants the Government to replace level crossings year for the next 10 years.

"I think we have to have an ongoing program to remove all level crossings across Melbourne – the 172 of them," he says.

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