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Summary

Summary

At about 15:58 on 23 May 2003, the Sunlander passenger train 3C37 collided with a Ford Falcon station wagon at the Hesp Road/Bennett Road public level crossing on the North Coast railway line approximately 700m south of the small town of Aloomba, south of Cairns North Queensland.

There were three occupants in the car, a woman, who was driving, and her two male children, of seven and five years in the rear seats. The seven year old, was seated on the left hand side with a seat belt fastened, the five year old was on the right hand side in a purpose designed child seat and restraints. The seven year old male child was pronounced dead at the scene. The woman and five year old child were taken to hospital, the child suffering from severe head injuries.

Although the driver of the car initially stopped, she either did this in automation mode and did not check that the line was clear, or she did not see the train before starting over the level crossing.

The investigation established some problems with the approach angle and sighting distance of cars approaching the crossing from Moller Road and Fixter Road. There was also an absence of pavement markings associated with the passive protection for this level crossing.

The signage at the Hesp Road/Bennett Road level crossing has been upgraded and pavement markings renewed following this accident.

The investigation recommends that in accordance with the requirements of the Level Crossing Upgrade Program, the crossing be re-assessed in light of this report and that the proposals to meet the risk threshold and compliance be implemented as a matter of priority.

 
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