Fatal level crossing site not up to national standard

Laine Clark |

There had been no risk assessment on a Brisbane level crossing for almost 20 years, a report found.
There had been no risk assessment on a Brisbane level crossing for almost 20 years, a report found.

A maligned level crossing in Brisbane did not meet Australian safety standards when a driver was fatally hit by a train two years ago, a report says.

The Australian Transport and Safety Bureau released its findings on Wednesday, revealing the boom gate was too short when the female motorist was killed at the crossing by the express passenger train in February 2021.

Queensland Rail (QR) had also not done out a risk assessment on the Kianawah Road level crossing for almost 20 years despite concerns raised by locals and many near misses.

The female driver was likely unfamiliar with the area and using a GPS when she approached the “complex” crossing, ATSB said.

CCTV footage showed the boom was lowered for about 10 seconds before the woman’s vehicle moved on to the crossing.

The ATSB report found there was a 3.1-metre gap between a median island on the road and the lowered boom barrier at the crossing.

The Australian standard states boom gates must extend to the dividing line or the centre of a roadway.

The gap meant the boom barrier only partially blocked traffic that approached the level crossing from Lindum Road, ATSB said.

“In this instance, it was very likely that the driver of the motor vehicle followed the turn line markings on the road surface, which directed them past the end of the lowered boom barrier onto the level crossing and into the path of the approaching train,” the report said.

The train was travelling at more than 80km/h when it hit the vehicle.

The public had raised safety concerns about the crossing with three levels of government for years, the report said.

There were many reported incidents at the crossing over a two-year period up to February 2021 including 14 of a vehicle passing through with the boom gate down.

But QR’s last risk assessment of the crossing was held in 2002, 19 years before the fatal collision.

“The standard stated that public and pedestrian level crossings were to be assessed every five years or sooner,” the ATSB report said.

QR only had one person to assess the thousands of level crossings from 2016 to 2021.

“Of the 1138 public level crossings that required assessment within the five-year time frame, just 52 were completed,” the report said.

At the time QR and the Brisbane City Council also did not have a required formal agreement outlining shared level crossing safety responsibilities. 

The agreement is now in place after QR addressed all safety concerns.

A new Australian standards compliant boom barrier has been installed with updated road markings and risk assessment at the crossing.

Four staff have also been trained to undertake level crossing risk assessments, with a contract firm set to assist over the next five years.

QR said all levels of government were working together on a precinct study for the crossing with a full accessibility upgrade set for nearby Lindum station, including moving it further away from the intersection.