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What happened

On 25 May 2012, freight train 3PW4 collided with a motor vehicle (Toyota Corolla) that was fouling the railway track at the Cherry Street level crossing in Werribee, Victoria. The passenger in the Corolla died as a result of the collision and the driver was injured and required treatment in hospital.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the driver of the Corolla had entered the level crossing when traffic was flowing relatively freely. Shortly after the Corolla entered the crossing, the lights, bells and boom barriers protecting the crossing began to operate for the approach of train 3PW4. Unbeknown to the Corolla driver, another vehicle had broken down just beyond the crossing. This led to her having to stop the Corolla in a position which was foul of the railway track.

When the crew of train 3PW4 saw the Corolla fouling the track, they made an emergency brake application. However, the train could not be stopped in time to prevent the collision.

The ATSB’s investigation found that the level crossing signage and road markings were generally in accordance with the applicable Australian Standards and that the crossing warning lights, bells and boom barriers had operated correctly.

The ATSB also found that while the collision was a direct result of the Corolla being in a position foul of the approaching train, the safety issues involved were more complex and extensive. The investigation identified several opportunities to enhance the safety of the existing grade crossing including; changes to the road design, the provision of short range warning lights, improving the coordination of the crossing protection system with the nearby pedestrian traffic lights, reducing the length of the crossing and the provision of suitable refuge/escape area(s).

What's been done as a result

Metro Trains Melbourne has advised that they will investigate the potential benefits gained from fitting short range lights at this and other similar level crossings. They have also advised that the options available for shortening the level crossing length will be explored in consultation with the Wyndham City Council.

The Wyndham City Council has advised that actions have been taken to improve the coordination of the nearby pedestrian crossing lights and that further coordination improvements are being considered. Council officers are also investigating ways to provide escape/refuge areas.

Safety message

Although the road rules (Victorian Road Safety Act 2009) make motorists primarily responsible for avoiding a collision with a train when negotiating a level crossing, prudent road and level crossing design is essential in helping to mitigate the risk of road and rail vehicles colliding.

Where it is feasible, road and rail authorities should consider additional measures to enhance the situational awareness of motorists negotiating level crossings and to address the risks associated with traffic queuing.

It is also imperative that motorists approaching level crossings are extremely vigilant.

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Safety issues

RO-2012-007-SI-01 - RO-2012-007-SI-02 - RO-2012-007-SI-03 - RO-2012-007-SI-04 -  

Pedestrian traffic light coordination

The Market Street pedestrian crossing traffic lights do not effectively coordinate with the level crossing equipment. When these lights are operating, vehicles can be forced to queue through the roundabout and thus block traffic that is attempting to exit the level crossing while a train is approaching.

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2012-007-SI-01
Who it affects:All road and rail infrastructure managers
Status:Adequately addressed


Level crossing length

The level crossing is longer than necessary. Shortening it would reduce the amount of time that a vehicle spends within the crossing and improve the visual information available to motorists when assessing their ability to clear the crossing.

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2012-007-SI-02
Who it affects:All road and rail infrastructure managers
Status:Adequately addressed


Visual cues

Once within the level crossing there are no readily visible cues (like short range lights) to alert a driver that the level crossing protection system is operating.

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2012-007-SI-03
Who it affects:All rail infrastructure managers
Status:Adequately addressed


Escape or refuge areas

There is no available refuge or escape area within the traffic island at the northbound exit of the level crossing.

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2012-007-SI-04
Who it affects:All road and rail infrastructure managers
Status:Adequately addressed

General details
Date: 25 May 2012 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1740 EST  
Location   (show map):Werribee Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria Occurrence type: Level Crossing 
Release date: 18 December 2013  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
Train details
Train registration: 3PW4 
Type of operation: Freight 
Damage to train: Minor 
Departure point:Perth, WA
Destination:Wollongong, NSW
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Last update 16 December 2015