In an Australian first, rail safety organisation TrackSAFE has today announced the top ten worst level crossings in each state, from the perspective of train drivers.
TrackSAFE has written to State and Federal Transport Ministers across the country, urging increased funding for the upgrade of these dangerous level crossings.
“It is the train drivers who go over the same stretch of track day in, day out, over many years who know where the most risky level crossings are”, TrackSAFE Director and Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO Mr Bryan Nye said.
There are around 70 collisions annually at level crossings where road users fail to obey the road rules and 35 deaths every year resulting from level crossing and trespass incidents.
TrackSAFE notes that these level crossings do not take the place of those determined by each state though their dedicated committees.
”State level crossing committees perform an incredibly important role, and have prioritised lists of level crossings that need to be upgraded”, Mr Nye said.
“TrackSAFE involvement comes from wanting to keep pressure on the issue and allow train drivers to inform the debate” Mr Nye continued.
“Most train drivers will witness a fatality, incident or near collision on the network in the course of their careers, too many will never be able to return to work”, Bob Nanva, TrackSAFE board member and National Secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union said.
Train drivers suffer profound and lasting trauma as a result of being exposed to incidents on the network.
“Approaching level crossings can be a significant source of anxiety for drivers who have witnessed countless near collisions at them. The more promptly risky level crossings are upgraded, the sooner drivers will feel safer at work”, Mr Nye said.
“The best way of avoiding crashes between cars and trains is to get rid of level crossings. Governments must commit to prioritising the replacement of level crossing with bridges or underpasses on busy roads,” TrackSAFE Board member and Australian Automobile Association Executive Director, Andrew McKellar said.
TrackSAFE was established to endeavour to reduce incidents on the rail network, and to provide world’s best practice support to rail employees.
“Train drivers have important knowledge on this issue which must inform the discussion. There are thousands of near collisions at level crossings each year; each one of these is just seconds away from becoming potentially catastrophic”, Mr Nye continued.
“Level crossing upgrades must remain on the political agenda for the good of our rail employees and the greater public”, Mr Nye concluded.