Union boss says rail is dangerous

A CENTRAL Queensland union leader says Rockhampton Regional Council will have “blood on its hands” if a fatality occurs because it failed to close a dangerous rail crossing near Gracemere.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union Rockhampton organiser Craig Allen said the vigilance and professionalism of train driver members averted a near-death situation yesterday when a fully-loaded coal train narrowly avoided hitting a semi-trailer at the Malchi Rail Crossing about 9.40am.

Mr Allen said the train had to apply all emergency procedures to avoid a collision.

“It is extremely disappointing this particular road crossing has been allowed to be re-opened after a previous collision between a cattle truck and railway track machine that resulted in our members having to go through trauma,” he said.

“It is our understanding the regional council has succumbed to pressure from a minority.

"Simply, if this is the case, council will have blood on their hands.”

He said Rockhampton Regional Council should be applying the basics of risk management.

“There is a safer crossing just up the road that has flashing lights,” Mr Allen said.

“This crossing needs to be closed on a permanent basis and then the overpass (over the railway line off the Capricorn Highway west of Gracemere) must be built.

"More trains use this rail line and one day it might just be a passenger train in a situation.”

A council spokeswoman said any decision to close the crossing would have to be a collaborative decision by council, Main Roads and QR National.

Mayor Brad Carter said council had actively sought to improve the safety for users at all road and rail junctions.

“The Gracemere Industrial Access Project, which is collaboration between Council, Department of Transport and Main Roads and QR National, will address the problems currently being faced at the Somerset Rd and Malchi Nine Mile Rd level crossings in this area,” Cr Carter said.

“I have had discussions with the Rail Bus and Tram Union and I acknowledge and commend their commitment to the safety of their members and public.”

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