Behaviour change needed or lives could be lost
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has urged motorists travelling through the Northern Rivers region to show greater caution and patience at level crossings, for fear tragedy striking is now just a matter of time.
ARTC Executive General Manager – Interstate, Peter Winder, said had things happened any differently at locations around Casino, Rappville and Kyogle over the last 18 months, we might well be talking about seven different families without a parent, child or sibling sitting at the dinner table this week.
The warning for Northern Rivers motorists and pedestrians comes after a review of recent incidents highlighted it has been a bad year for near hits around the region.
“The industry is committed to highlighting the dangers presented by level crossings and helping educate and promote better decision making around the rail corridor,” Mr Winder said.
“The launch of the tenth annual Rail Safety Week this week serves as an important reminder of the potential tragedy that lies in each and every ‘near hit’ event.
“Each of these incidents is entirely preventable, and more often than not it comes down to poor decision making or driver behaviour, which is just not an excuse.”
Mr Winder said in the past five years, 19 near hits were reported at crossings at Rappville, Kyogle and Casino – and every single level crossing had an active warning device in place.
“We shouldn’t look at these incidents as close-calls and then brush them aside as lucky escapes, we need to put a human face on it,” Mr Winder said.
“And that’s not only of the children, friends and family of those devastated by a loved one being lost or severely injured in an avoidable incident with a train, but the subsequent impact it has on train crew, first responders, and other scene attendants.
“Train drivers and rail employees who experience an incident – are the forgotten victims -despite the fact they are often the last to see that person alive, and for them, severe trauma can result from witnessing such an event.”
ARTC figures over the last five years show level crossing incidents are more likely to occur in regional areas than metropolitan, with 82 per cent of collisions and 76 per cent of reported near hits occurring in a rural location.
Media contact: Bas Bolyn, 0477 340 658