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Urban rail news in brief - July 2015
Inland rail a trifecta for Toowoomba region: mayor
THE video at first is bewildering as it seems occupants of a car and it’s caravan are not aware of 1.5km train which will soon intersect with their path.
Then it becomes terrifying when it is obvious the vehicle on the road will not win the race with the giant on the tracks.
The train’s crew have done all they could — sounding a loud warning alarm, wrenching on the brakes — and have retreated to a safety cabin to protect themselves from what is now an inevitable collision.
Then it happens. The caravan disintegrates, but amazingly no lives are lost.
Australia’s largest rail freight operator, Pacific National, and the NSW Police are concerned the number of level crossing accidents have increased over the past six months and that drivers don’t realise the danger of racing a massive rail machine.
Drivers are taking huge risks by trying to race across level crossings in front of speeding trains. Picture: Chris EastmanSource:News Corp Australia
“It takes a 1.5km-long freight train travelling at 100km/hour approximately 2km to come to a complete stop, and that is after the train driver has seen the vehicle not slowing down,” Pacific National‘s CEO, Dean Dalla Valle, said.
Pacific National alone had five collisions and eight near misses in the 12 months to June, and other rail users have similar statistics.
There are 24,000 level crossings nationally and summer holiday traffic on roads means greater risk of more deadly games of level crossing chicken.
Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy, said drivers approaching rail crossings need to stop and think.
“In many cases, level crossing crashes happen in broad daylight when visibility and sight distance is good,” he said. “In many cases, crashes happen at level crossings when a driver looks, but does not see the danger.”
The accidents also cause great distress to the train crews involved. Mr Dalla Valle contacts those involved and knows their deep anguish and at times their unwarranted guilt.
Pacific National train driver, Chris Grillett knows it personally, having been involved in two level crossing accidents.
In the first, a vehicle towing a caravan failed to stop or even slow down at a level crossing with the train ramming the caravan. Just two weeks later, a B-double truck was hit because of the same reason.
“You can’t explain how it feels when you know there is no way you can stop the train in time,” said Mr Grillett.
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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