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Nicotine withdrawal was likely to blame for a Victorian train driver disregarding two stop signals and entering a level crossing before its boom gates had come down.
The train driver and another were forced to make emergency stops in the January 2018 incident.
The driver was moving a V/Line train from the outer Geelong suburb of Waurn Ponds to Geelong Station, on a service without passengers, when he passed two signals at "danger" near Marshall Station. The signals are the equivalent of a red light on the road.
Rail operators have been told "attempts by safety-critical workers to stop smoking should be managed under medical supervision" after the incident.CREDIT:CRAIG ABRAHAM
The train entered a single-line section of track between Marshall and South Geelong and went through a level crossing before the boom gates had lowered.
At about the same time, another V/Line train was travelling on the same stretch of track in the opposite direction with 166 passengers on board.
The trains were supposed to cross using a loop track at Marshall, but a controller in Melbourne made an emergency call urging them to stop when he realised one driver was passing danger signals. The two trains were 940 metres apart at the time.
An Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation has found nicotine withdrawal was the likely explanation, because the driver had not applied a nicotine patch that day.
The effects of nicotine withdrawal become apparent within a few hours of using the substance and include concentration and memory issues.
"To minimise adverse impacts, attempts by safety-critical workers to stop smoking should be managed under medical supervision," ATSB chief investigator transport safety Chris McKeown said.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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