Driver dices with death after rail crossing lights fail
TOOWOOMBA coffee vendor Frank Zammit was left reaching for his own product to calm his nerves after a near crash with a train at the Kingsthorpe rail crossing Saturday night.
Mr Zammit, his wife Kathy and daughter Mary-Ann are adamant the crossing's warning lights had not activated until the west-bound train was almost upon them.
The family had been returning to Toowoomba about 9.50pm after working their coffee van at the Goombungee Rodeo Saturday night.
Mr Zammit was driving the Xpress coffee van with his wife and daughter following in a car behind.
"Whenever I approach an intersection or a rail crossing in the van I always take it slowly because I don't want to dislodge the (coffee) machine in the back," Mr Zammit said.
"So, I approached the rail crossing slowly and I was on the tracks when suddenly I saw this bright light to my left and realised it was a train.
"It was no more than 100m away if that.
"It was only when I got over the tracks that I looked in the rear vision mirror to see the red lights at the crossing were flashing and I heard the train blowing its horn.
"I can say the lights were not flashing when I approached or when I was on the tracks."
His wife and daughter followed Mr Zammit over the crossing before the train passed through; they too claim no warning lights were flashing before they approached the crossing.
"I would have thought those red lights would be flashing when the train was about 1km away," Mr Zammit said.
After arriving home in Toowoomba, Mr Zammit called Police Link but after a 15-minute wait he hung up and went to the Toowoomba Police Station yesterday morning where he was told to contact Queensland Rail.
For motorists approaching the rail crossing from the north, as the Zammits were, Goombungee Rd takes a sharp right turn before the crossing, then a sharp left over the rail line and another sharp left to continue.
Mr Zammit believes because of the nature of the bend into the rail crossing, even more time should be given to warn of trains approaching.
The Chronicle was unable to obtain comment from Queensland Rail or the Minister for Transport's office last night.