Rail workers are demanding urgent action to prevent more level crossing deaths after two train drivers were killed in South Australia on New Year’s Eve.
A truck driver has been charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving over Sunday's incident near the SA-NSW border.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) Assistant National Secretary Shayne Kummerfeld today called for a zero tolerance approach to level crossing safety, with cameras at all level crossings and harsher penalties for drivers who drove across rail lines in front of trains.
“Anyone who has ever driven a locomotive has probably had a near miss at a level crossing, with someone trying to ‘beat the train’,” Mr Kummerfeld said.
“The level crossing madness simply has to stop.”
Mr Kummerfeld said four people were injured in a similar collision between a freight train and a truck at a railway level crossing in Katherine, in the Northern Territory, during June 2023.
“The rail industry has been talking about level crossing safety for years, but the tragedies keep happening,” he said
“It’s time that Governments across the country took a tougher approach to stop people from taking stupid risks around level crossings.
“For a start, there needs to be a zero tolerance approach to running red lights at level crossings.
“All level crossings should be equipped with cameras to catch drivers who stray into the rail corridor when a train is approaching, and heavy penalties must apply to people who do the wrong thing.”
Mr Kummerfeld said better infrastructure and better use of technology could also help reduce level crossing incidents.
“Governments should also be putting more funding towards improving level crossing protection - with more warning lights, more boom gates and more grade separations.”
Furthermore, Mr Kummerfeld said governments should investigate options for in-car warning systems to let drivers know when trains or emergency service vehicles are approaching.
“Police already have technology that lets them know that a nearby driver is using their phone, so that sort of technology should be relatively easy to develop.
“Ultimately, it is up to all road users to take extreme care around level crossings and obey the law. Anyone who drives across a level crossing in front of a train is putting lives at risk.”
Stewart Prins 0487 119 790 / email@example.com