QR National calls for vigilance
RAIL freight company QR National is concerned it may only be a matter of time before risky behaviour at level crossings in central Queensland ends in tragedy.
A man was lucky to walk away with only minor injuries after his utility was hit by a QR National coal train at a level crossing in Emerald a week ago.
QR National has been calling for people to be vigilant around level crossings, but says it appears the message about the inherent danger of trying to outrun trains, is not getting through.
QR National Vice President Network Operations Clay McDonald says the concern is that the next incident may result in a fatality.
"There has been a spike in near misses at Malchi Road crossing Gracemere in recent months and there continues to be concern over adjacent Somerset Road crossing", he said.
There have been 10 near misses and one collision at Malchi Road since April and 8 near misses at Somerset Road in the same time period.
Mr McDonald says QR National is contacting local transport companies and alerting all motorists about the consequences of their risky behaviour.
"It's across a few different level crossings on our network, but these two - Malchi and Somerset Roads - are among the worst for risky behaviour, and it's not just heavy vehicles involved.
"We also need to target the behaviour of drivers of passenger vehicles ignoring level crossing signals for the sake of saving a couple of seconds", he said.
"And we need to remind people that both Malchi and Somerset Road crossings are under surveillance so any footage of motorists breaking the law can be referred to police."
Apart from last week's collision, other recent incidents include a QR National train involved in a near miss with two trucks at Malchi Road and a near miss at Somerset Road involving a car which was just metres from being hit by the train at the crossing.
Rockhampton police were advised of both incidents.
Mr McDonald says QR National spends a lot of time urging people to "stop, look, listen and think" when they approach level crossings and yet it seems some people think they are invincible by trying to outrun freight trains.
"QR National is contributing to the building of a massive new overpass which will eliminate both Malchi Road and Somerset Road and we hope that will be completed and in use by February next year, but in the mean time people need to take care at these two crossing and indeed ALL level crossings.
"Coal and freight trains can be up to 2 km long and can take up to 1 km to pull up when the emergency brakes are applied. "It's simple - we are just appealing to people to obey the rules of level crossings in the same way they would obey the rules of the road", he said.
"Not only are we concerned for local motorists but it's also exposing our train drivers to major safety risks and significant trauma."