AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Time for action on level crossings: ATA

<p>The Australian trucking lobby has called on federal, state and territory transport ministers to speed up work on &#8220fixing&#8221 Australia’s level crossings following the release of a report yesterday (Wednesday, February 13) into the collision between the Ghan and a road train.</p> <p>Australian Trucking Association chief executive Stuart St Clair made the request after the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released its report into the accident.</p> <p>&#8220The report shows the level crossing was only protected by a stop sign,&#8221 he said.</p> <p>&#8220It did not have boom gates or flashing lights. </p> <p>&#8220The trees and dirt mounds to the east of the road meant the truck driver would have first seen the train when his truck was just 17 metres away from the tracks.&#8221</p> <p>The ATSB found that the truck driver ignored the stop sign and crossed the tracks at 50 km&#47h.</p> <p>An investigation into the December 12 incident also found that it was common practice for drivers at the crossing, 170 km southeast of Darwin, to drive through the intersection without stopping.</p> <p>&#8220The truck driver should have stopped at the stop sign, but he had gone over the level crossing about 800 times during the previous month,&#8221 Mr St Clair said. </p> <p>&#8220He had only seen four freight trains during that time, and as a result expected the crossing would be clear.&#8221</p> <p>The ATA has called on ministers meeting at the February 29 Australian Transport Council to upgrade the many thousands of level crossings in Australia that do not have active warning devices.</p> <p>The Ghan was travelling at 101 km&#47h when it struck just behind the road train’s prime mover, derailing both locomotives, a wagon and nine passenger carriages.</p> <p>The truck driver and a train passenger needed hospital treatment, while many of the other 64 passengers and 17 staff received minor injuries, the ATSB said.</p> <p>The level crossing is notorious for its short sighting distances, as the road intersects with the tracks at an acute angle and with visual obstructions.</p> <br />