Qld bus crash brings change

Upgrade to open rail level crossings follows serious bus and train crash in Cairns last year

A bus and train collision in Cairns has prompted the Queensland Government to invest $12.5 million in rail crossing safety and to insist on better communication between Queensland Rail and regional councils.

The crash occurred, when a bus driver failed to see an approaching train, with a number of people aboard the bus seriously injured as a result of the accident on the afternoon of June 15 last year.

Queensland minister for transport Stirling Hinchliffe announced the funding for key regional sites saying it reinforces the importance of promoting the safe use of our roads and rail network particularly at open level crossings.

"While the Rail Regulator report found the Draper Street level crossing operated as designed and the train was driven appropriately, there is no doubt lessons can be learnt from the incident," he says.

"The report identified some recommendations for both Cairns Regional Council and Queensland Rail to implement, which included maintaining regular contact and investigating the possibility of synchronising traffic and level crossing signals."

Changes have now been made at the accident site, in response to lessons learned during the investigation.

"Since the incident last year improvements have been made to the road markings at the crossing to help improve understanding of the need to stop for trains at the crossing," Hinchliffe says.

"I am pleased that Queensland Rail and Cairns Regional Council are holding discussions about further possible enhancements to the Draper Street level crossing."

If the bus driver had visually searched the rail track, or noticed the activation of the secondary red flashing light, he would have been able to see the approaching train and respond appropriately, a report recently released by Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) concluded.

However, an investigation found the incorrect placement of the stop line at the intersection in respect to the positioning of the red flashing lights occurred, due in part to a miscommunication between Queensland Rail and the Cairns Regional Council, and this misplacement contributed to the bus driver having an obscured view.

Work is now underway on a $1.5 million upgrade to the existing safety protection at the nearby Kate Street level crossing in Portsmith and Hinchliffe says this work will continue throughout the state.

"This $12.5 million in funding will ensure key level crossings across the state will be upgraded by June 2017, with more mechanisms installed like flashing lights and boom gates.

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