A recent fatal incident at a Melbourne level crossing has raised concerns over conditions at level crossings across Australia and prompted calls for harsher penalties for road users disobeying rules.
trackSAFE, a not-for-profit foundation established by the Australian rail industry, has demanded that the penalties for violating level crossing road rules should be increased so they act as a deterrent for drivers ignoring warning signs and signals.
Campaigners are calling for the Victoria penalty of a A$704 fine for ignoring level crossing signs to be increased in the wake of an incident in which a truck driver crashed through crossing barriers and collided with a Metro train, killing one train passenger and injuring 13 others, including the driver.
The Metro train was reportedly travelling at around 115km/h between Dandenong and Lynbrook on the Cranbourne line.
trackSAFE cited truck / train collisions to be the single most costly incident to the Australian rail industry in terms of lives lost and economic and social impact, and referred to the recent crash as an example of the trauma to which train drivers can be exposed during their daily work.
Australasian Railway Association CEO and trackSAFE board director Bryan Nye said: "This incident is a devastating loss to the families, friends and communities of the man who was killed, those injured and the train driver who we understand to be in a coma."
The Australian government has plans to remove 177 suburban level crossings within Melbourne, which trackSAFE insists is carried out in a progressive programme with commitment from all sides of government.
trackSAFE was set up to promote the prevention or regulation of behaviour that is harmful to individuals, communities and rail industry personnel and to address the emotional, mental and physical trauma caused to Australian rail employees resulting from incidents on the Australian rail network.
Image: Campaigners are demanding stricter penalties across Australia for road users who ignore level crossing rules. Photo: courtesy of Bidgee.