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An Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation has found that a fatal level crossing accident at Back Creek in central western NSW at about 1830 on 10 March 2007 occurred when the semi trailer driver drove into the path of an empty grain train. The driver sustained fatal injuries in the collision.

The ATSB today released a report regarding the collision. The semi trailer was trapped under the leading locomotive and dragged onto the rail bridge over a watercourse adjacent to the level crossing. During the collision sequence, the leading locomotive and semi trailer prime mover caught fire. The fire subsequently destroyed both vehicles and the other two locomotives that were hauling the train, and the timber members of the railway bridge over the watercourse.

The ATSB's investigation found that the semi trailer driver was probably intending to perform a rolling stop, where the vehicle is slowed but not stopped at the level crossing Stop sign, and he may have only heard the locomotive horn at the last moment, if at all. The driver lived in the area and was very familiar with the crossing and probably did not expect to see a train given the low volume of rail traffic on the line.

The investigation also found that the semi trailer drivers ability to see the train was probably impeded by glare from the sun given the time of day and the westerly direction he was driving as he approached the crossing.

The ATSB's investigation report also notes that there were no advance level crossing warning signs on an alternate road approach to the level crossing for heavy vehicles. However, given the semi trailer driver's extensive local knowledge, the lack of this signage was not considered to have contributed to the collision.

Copies of the report can be downloaded from the ATSB's internet site or obtained from the ATSB by telephoning (02) 6274 7687 or 1800 020 616.

Media contact: 1800 020 616
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Last update 01 April 2011