‘Everyone deserves to arrive home’: plan for safer rail

Stephanie Gardiner |

In the eight years to 2022, 39 people died in collisions on the nation’s level crossings.
In the eight years to 2022, 39 people died in collisions on the nation’s level crossings.

The federal government has released a vision for “zero harm” on Australia’s level railway crossings, a month after two train drivers were killed in a collision with a truck.

The national level crossing safety strategy, released on Friday, details plans for awareness campaigns, greater uptake of safety technology and improved data to better understand the risks.

The report showed there were only passive safety protections, like stop or give way signs, at the majority of the nation’s 22,000 level crossings in 2022.

Between mid-2014 and 2022, there were 39 fatalities, 49 serious injuries, 322 collisions and 7839 near-misses involving either vehicles or pedestrians.

On December 31, two men were killed when the freight train they were driving collided with a truck on the Barrier Highway at Bindarrah, near the South Australia-NSW border.

Federal Transport Minister Catherine King said the community and industry had long called for more investment, better safety and improved education and enforcement.

“Every year Australians are being killed or injured on our level crossing network, resulting in untold mental, physical and emotional trauma for all involved, as well as millions of dollars in damages,” Ms King said.

“The Australian government is committed to working towards zero harm at our rail crossings.”

The release of the 10-year strategy will be followed by a safety roundtable in Brisbane next month.

The Australasian Railway Association said co-operation between governments, unions, industry and community groups was needed to improve safety.

“The importance of railway crossing safety cannot be overstated,” the association’s chair Danny Broad said.

“Everyone deserves to arrive home safely.”