The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has found that heavy fog
and the inappropriate speed of a truck in the conditions were the
main contributors to a collision with a freight train at the
Lismore Skipton Road level crossing at Lismore, Victoria on 25 May
2006. The 34 year old driver of the truck was fatally injured in
the accident which closed the main Adelaide to Melbourne rail line
for a period of six days with the total damage bill estimated at
The collision occurred when the truck drove into the side of the
second locomotive while the train was on the level crossing. This
collision occurred shortly before sunrise with visibility in the
fog as low as 20 metres and certainly no greater than 50 metres.
The passive level crossing was fitted with give-way signs for road
users and was not protected by lights or bells to indicate the
presence of a train.
The truck was a 19 metre loaded rigid tipper/quad axle
combination that was travelling south on the Lismore Skipton Road.
The train was 1.3 kilometres long, weighed over 4300 tonnes, and
was being hauled by three locomotives travelling east from Adelaide
The locomotive data logger revealed that the speed of the train
at impact was 112 km/h, that the locomotive horn was sounded twice
before the collision and that the train's headlight was
illuminated. The ATSB calculated the speed of the truck as being
between 53 and 78 km/h, with the likelihood that it was towards the
upper end of this range.
The force of impact was such that the second and third
locomotives of the train were derailed and this resulted in a
'domino' effect that subsequently derailed 41 of the train's 64
Other safety factors identified in the investigation that did
not directly contribute to the collision were the possibility that
the truck driver may have been suffering some effects of fatigue
and also that the level crossing approach signage and sighting
distances did not comply with relevant standards and guidelines.
The investigation also noted that in times of reduced visibility it
may not be possible for a motorist to safely negotiate a level
crossing protected only by give way or stop signs based on sighting
The report acknowledges the work being undertaken by the
Australian Transport Council and the Australasian Railway
Association in regard to the National Railway Level Crossing Safety
Strategy and the safety actions already taken or underway by the
National Transport Commission and VicRoads.
Recommendations are made to VicRoads and the Department of
Infrastructure in relation to ensuring that other passive level
crossings in Victoria are to standard, ensuring that road and rail
authorities jointly assess the risks of large road vehicles
traversing level crossings, and increasing road user education
regarding the risks of passive level crossings.
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