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Highway and line remain closed after horror crossing smash

<p>The Murray Valley Highway just north of Kerang is expected to be closed until after the weekend and the rail line for an undetermined period, V&#47Line said today (Wednesday, June 6), after yesterday’s level-crossing disaster which claimed 11 lives. </p> <p>A spokeswoman for V&#47Line, which took back ownership of Victoria’s rail infrastructure from Pacific National this year, said freight disruption was minimal as there was on average of one service a week on the line between Swan Hill and Bandigo.</p> <p>Coronial, police and rail safety investigations are gearing up after a truck plouged into a passenger train 6 km north of Kerang, with a major focus on level-crossing safety. </p> <p>The truck appeared to ignore flashing lights and warning bells at the crossing &#8211 possibly because of the sun, residents told reporters.</p> <p>V&#47Line chief executive Rob Barnett said yesterday: &#8220Clearly this incident will raise questions again about the safety of level crossings. </p> <p>&#8220That is completely understandable when we experience a tragedy of this magnitude.</p> <p>&#8220We have reliable information that the level crossing flashing lights and warning bells had been activated and were operating at the time of the incident. </p> <p>&#8220However, I would ask everyone to resist jumping to any conclusions and await the outcome of what I can assure you will be the most comprehensive investigation possible.&#8221</p> <p>The Australasian Rail Association has made repeated calls recently for a stronger, more unified approach by state and federal governments to level-crossing rules and safety, especially after the collision between a road train and the <em>Ghan</em> in December.</p> <p>&#8220Although railway level crossing accidents are of low frequency when compared to that of road accidents, they have extremely high consequences,&#8221 chief executive Brian Nye said at the time.</p> <p>He renewed the call a month ago, highlighting the potential for catastrophes involving &#8220the loss of many lives&#8221.</p> <p>Mr Nye is overseas at present while responses from the Victorian Transport Association and the Victorian Freight and Logistics Council were awaited.</p> <p>The disaster came two days after a fire on a Pacific National freight train at Tatyoon, near Ararat.</p> <p>Country Fire Authority regional operations manager John Athorn told <em>Lloyd’s List DCN</em> the driver stopped the train after seeing 6-metre flames from a rail truck near the rear at close to midnight on Sunday. </p> <p>The tarpaulined truck carrying wrapping plastic and steel products suffered extensive damage and a nearby reefer unit suffered some damage.</p> <p>Police put the cost of the damage at more than $100,000, the ABC reported.</p> <p>Four brigades attended the scene and an earth wall was built around the fire to hold burning liquefied plastic.</p> <p>The cause is unknown though there is conjecture that friction may have been involved.</p> <br />