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A coroner has cleared a train driver of any wrongdoing over the
death of a teenage girl in 2002, but recommended that the operator
of Melbourne's metropolitan rail network consider reducing train
speeds and fencing sections of track.
Whitney Robinson was struck by a Eltham line train on July 7,
2002 as she and a friend tried to outrun the locomotive as it
travelled across the Plenty River railway bridge at
The train was travelling at about 70km/h at the time - within
the speed limit for that section of track. The driver blew his
whistle and applied the emergency brakes upon seeing the girls but
could not stop in time.
Following the impact, Ms Robinson fell 10 metres to the
riverbank and her friend Georgia Simon, 14, was also hit by the
train but fell two metres onto a ledge on the side of the
Paramedics arrived at the scene and Ms Robinson was airlifted to
the Alfred hospital where she died an hour later.
This morning, deputy state coroner Iain West cleared the train's
driver of any wrongdoing and urged Connex to install signs on the
bridge to prohibit use by pedestrians.
An earlier inquest was told that anecdotal evidence revealed
schoolchildren and local residents often used the single-track
bridge as a means of crossing the river.
The inquest was also told that locals walked across the railways
tracks instead of using an underpass and pedestrian crossing
located about 500 metres away.
Residents told the inquest that sections of the track needed to
be fenced to deter people from crossing the busy rail line and Mr
West said Connex should consider fencing the line between
Greensborough station and Sherbourne road.
He also recommended that train speeds in the area be reduced to
less than 70km/h because of a curve in the track that limits
drivers' sight, which meant that a train could not stop in an
emergency before crossing the bridge.
The Victorian Coroners Court heard that the speed limit for the
track had been set in 1945 but there was an advisory speed of
70km/h for the area of the location of the curve.
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