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At about 1448 on Wednesday 5 March 2008, a double road-train loaded with bulk cement drove into the path of a train that was conveying four empty fuel tankers at the Stirling Street level crossing, Birkenhead, SA. The impact speed of both the train and road-train was low (about 15 km/h) but nevertheless sufficient to roll the prime mover and the first semitrailer onto their sides and to derail the lead bogie of the train's locomotive. The road-train driver was slightly injured; the two train drivers were shaken but otherwise unhurt.

Road traffic at the Stirling Street level crossing was controlled by 'Stop' sign assemblies. At the time of the collision, the level crossing was in the process of being converted from passive (Stop sign) to active control (flashing lights and boom barriers) as part of a major road upgrade called the 'Port River Expressway Project'. The investigation found that the Stop sign assembly was moved from its original position sometime during the upgrade and a 'Stop' line was not visible on the road surface. In the absence of a Stop line, visibility along the rail line was, at best, intermittent.

The investigation concluded that it is likely the road-train did not stop at the Stop sign assembly and travelled over the Stirling Street level crossing at a relatively constant speed of about 15 km/h. The investigation also found that the road-train involved in the collision was not authorised to operate on Stirling Street as no Heavy Vehicle Permit (HVP) for this vehicle had been issued by the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure.

Safety issues identified by the investigation relate to compliance of the level crossing with relevant standards, notification to the rail infrastructure manager of a non-compliance identified at audit and the issuing of HVP's for road-train routes that involve level crossings. The ATSB has acknowledged proactive safety action taken by relevant parties in response to those identified safety issues. In addition, the ATSB has issued four safety recommendations.

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General details
Date: 05 March 2008 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: CDT Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location:Birkenhead  
State: South Australia  
Release date: 06 October 2009 Occurrence category: Accident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: None 
 
Train details
Train registration: Train 4A13 
Type of operation: Freight Train 
Damage to train: Minor 
 
 
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Last update 23 November 2010