Westbury level crossing collision

The derailment of a TasRail train at Westbury in Northern Tasmania on Monday has again highlighted the need for a zero-tolerance approach to level crossing safety.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) Tasmanian Branch Secretary Byron Cubit today said it was extremely lucky that no-one was physically hurt when a truck driver drove across a level crossing and into the path of an oncoming train.

“Thankfully both the train driver and the truck driver escaped with no physical injuries, but it could have been a tragic situation.

“Ironically, the Westbury collision happened just one day after the World Day for Safety and Health at Work and Workers' Memorial Day on April 28.

“While the collision is under investigation by the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, it is clear that more needs to be done to improve level crossing safety right across Australia.

“There has been a spate of incidents over the past few months, including a horrifying collision in South Australia on New Year’s Eve, where two rail workers were killed.”

Byron Cubit said the RTBU was working with all levels of government to improve level crossing safety.

“The RTBU participated in a National Level Crossing Safety Roundtable in Brisbane in March, along with representatives from the rail and trucking industries, and state, territory and federal governments.

"The most significant outcome of roundtable was an agreement to a trial of both fixed and mobile level crossing safety cameras in Queensland.

“The trial will involve both active and passive level crossings, and will be the first step in the rollout of more safety cameras across Australia.

“While cameras can be an effective deterrent, the best way to stop cars and trucks from encroaching on rail corridors is through the use of boom gates and, ultimately grade separations.

“The RTBU will be writing to the Infrastructure Minister and Treasurer to advocate for more funds to be allocated towards better level crossing protection in the state budget, due in September.

“In the meantime, we implore all road users to take the utmost care around level crossings.

“Trains are heavy and take hundreds of metres to come to a stop.  There is never any excuse for trying to ‘beat the train‘ at a level crossing.

“It’s just not worth it.”