Freight Rail, Safety, Standards & Regulation

Recent near misses worry Aurizon

Aurizon coal train. Photo: Aurizon

Aurizon has urged communities to stop taking risks at rail crossings, after a series of near-misses across its national operations.

The company’s head of safety Danny Harnedy this week said the company’s drivers have been exposed to twelve near misses in with vehicles the past two months in Queensland and WA, one near miss with a pedestrian in Ipswich.

That’s on top of two vehicles colliding with trains, south of Townsville and in Gladstone.

“Just last week, south of Townsville, a vehicle towing a horse float collided with an Aurizon train at a level crossing,” Harnedy said. “Our driver was traumatised by this incident and the driver of the vehicle also sustained injuries.”

He also recounted a near miss at Moura, where a car driver allegedly drove around flashing lights and boom gates and narrowly missed colliding with an Aurizon train.

“While it’s fortunate that no-one was severely injured in any of these incidents, people need to understand that there is a very real and emotional impact for our drivers and their families,” the Aurizon safety boss said.

“We are urging people in all communities to stop taking risks with their lives and the lives of our drivers. If people continue to take risks, it’s only a matter of time before the outcome is fatal.

“When our drivers see a vehicle or a person on the tracks, they are fully aware they can’t immediately stop or swerve to miss. They know they can apply emergency brakes, but when a fully loaded train can take two kilometres to stop, the outcome can be devastating.”

Harnedy said Aurizon’s commitment to safety extends to the people in the communities where the company operates.

“Our message regarding rail crossing safety remains simple. Always approach rail crossings cautiously and stop, look, listen and think,” he said. “Like road safety, rail safety is critically important and we encourage parents to teach their children from a young age about the dangers associated with rail level crossings.”