New South Wales: OTSI recommends remedial actions

22 Apr

Visual obstruction due to compound,, Nundah. Source: OTSI

Visual obstruction due to compound,, Nundah. Source: OTSI

The New South Wales Office of Transport Safety Investigations (OTSI) has published its report into the May 4th, 2012 fatal collision between a train and a car on the Middle Falbrook Road level crossing in Nundah near Glennies Creek.

The collision with the utility road vehicle was witnessed by the crew of the train which was travelling northwest who said that they saw the road vehicle approaching the level crossing from the right at a moderate speed and then continuing onto the crossing without appearing to slow. The train struck the left side door of the utility, dragging the vehicle for 70 metres and finally stopping under emergency braking about 400 metres past the point of impact, with the utility on the right hand side of the train on the adjacent track. Another train travelling in the opposite direction had been standing for some minutes with its headlight extinguished approximately 800 metres from the crossing on the adjacent track.

The level crossing was passively protected by stop signs and associated roadside signs and road markings, except for a stop line on the road immediately before the crossing. The driver’s vision of trains approaching from the south-east was limited by the presence of a work compound to his left. However, the stop sign before the crossing was visible for a distance of at least 85 metres.

The reason the utility was driven onto the crossing without stopping is unknown. However, it is possible that the driver was distracted by the busy visual environment as he approached the crossing and that the driver’s view of the train approaching from his left was compromised by the presence of the work compound and fences in his line of sight.

Recommendations made relate to the need for rigour in assessing risk caused by the effect of construction sites on visibility at level crossings; marking of appropriately placed stop lines on the approaches to the railway crossing, and finalisation of interface agreements between Singleton Council and the Australian Rail Track Corporation.

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