An alarming increase in near miss incidents at Far North Queensland railway crossings has sparked a serious safety reminder from Queensland Rail.
The organisation’s regional head, Jim Benstead, said near misses between trains and motorists at Far North Queensland level crossings had almost tripled in 2021 compared to 2020.
“Queensland Rail is urging everyone to keep safety front of mind and take extra care near railway crossings following a steep increase in near miss incidents reported,” he said.
“In 2021, Queensland Rail reported 31 near misses with cars at railway crossings across Far North Queensland – all of which could have been avoided.
“This is up from just eight near miss incidents reported in 2020, marking an almost 300 percent increase.
“Upward Street in Cairns saw the most near misses in the region with 15 out of the 31 reported in 2021, and four out of the eight reported in 2020 at this one particular level crossing.”
Mr Benstead said alarming CCTV footage showed a reckless driver, dicing with death to dash across the tracks at the Upward Street crossing, narrowly avoiding a collision with the Kuranda Scenic Railway train which passed through just seconds after.
“The shocking vision shows a driver blatantly ignoring the signs and activated flashing lights,” he said.
“This is an important reminder for road users to pay attention to the signs and signals in place for everyone’s safety.
“Trains on the regional network can travel at speeds of up to 160 kilometres per hour and can’t stop quickly or swerve. It can take only a matter of seconds for a near miss to turn into a tragedy.
“Near miss and collision incidents can have a lasting physical and emotional impact on all involved, including the road users and train driver, but also loved ones, witnesses and first responders.
“While Queensland Rail continues to invest in engineering solutions and technology, community education, and working with police on enforcement, we really need motorists to play their part and heed the warnings in place for their safety.
“Ignoring the warnings is not only extremely dangerous, but also illegal and motorists caught ignoring railway crossing protection and damaging or obstructing level crossing infrastructure can be fined up to $1,102 and four demerit points.”
The Aumuller Street and Thompson Road railway crossings in Cairns will have CCTV cameras upgraded this month.