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What happened

At about 1320 on 12 February 2013, the 1250 Swan Hill to Melbourne passenger train collided with the rear corner of a semi-trailer on the B. McCann Road level crossing near Lake Charm, in northern Victoria.  The semi-trailer was travelling towards the Murray Valley Highway having taken on a load of gypsum at a nearby mine.

As a result of the collision there were minor injuries to one train passenger and to the drivers of the train and truck.  The truck’s trailer was destroyed and there was minor damage to the front of the locomotive.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the truck driver’s view of the track was restricted due to the acute road-to-rail interface angle and the resulting limited opportunity to observe the train through the truck cabin’s passenger-side window.  When the truck driver stopped to look for trains, his view along the track to the north was probably no more than 220 m and insufficient to observe the approaching train.

An embankment in the crossing’s northwest quadrant also affected sighting and vegetation either side of the road approach meant that the installed give-way protection was inconsistent with the available sighting distances. 

In the three years prior to the incident, the risk profile of the crossing had changed significantly due to a large increase in truck movements associated with a greater demand for gypsum from the mine.  The safety interface management of the crossing by V/Line and the Gannawarra Shire did not identify this changing risk profile and did not involve consultation with a key stakeholder, the mine owner.

What's been done as a result

The operator of the gypsum mine has undertaken to re-align the road approaches to the crossing to address the acute road-to-rail interface angle, and to reduce the incline of the road on the approaches.

Safety message

This incident highlights the need for rail and road authorities to be proactive in addressing identified sighting deficiencies at level crossings and to monitor the risk profile of crossings.

The occurrence also highlights the need to involve all key stakeholders in road-rail interface safety management processes.

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Safety issues

RO-2013-008-SI-01 - RO-2013-008-SI-02 - RO-2013-008-SI-03 - RO-2013-008-SI-04 - RO-2013-008-SI-05 - RO-2013-008-SI-06 - RO-2013-008-SI-07 - RO-2013-008-SI-08 -  

Sighting restrictions due to road-to-rail angle

For eastbound road users approaching the B. McCann Road level crossing along the left-side of the road, the view to the track was restricted due to the acute road-to-rail interface.  This was particularly problematic for trucks with the viewing opportunity to the left limited to the cab’s passenger-side window. 

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2013-008-SI-01
Who it affects:Users of B. McCann Road level crossing
Status:Adequately addressed


 

Rail operator inaction to address identified sighting issues

V/Line did not adequately address level crossing sighting issues at B. McCann Road acknowledged by the rail operator in 2009. 

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2013-008-SI-02
Who it affects:Users of level crossings in Victoria
Status:Adequately addressed


 

Shire inaction to address identified sighting issues

Gannawarra Shire did not adequately address level crossing sighting issues at B. McCann Road acknowledged by the Shire in 2009. 

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2013-008-SI-03
Who it affects:Users of level crossings in Gannawarra Shire
Status:Adequately addressed


 

Road incline on approach to level crossing

The road incline on the west-side approach to the crossing increased the time required for loaded trucks to transit the crossing.

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2013-008-SI-04
Who it affects:Users of B. McCann Road level crossing
Status:Adequately addressed


 

Crossing protection inconsistent with available sighting

The give-way protection installed at the crossing was inconsistent with the available sighting distances on both approaches to the crossing.  Sighting was affected by vegetation, embankments formed by a rail cutting and the curved road approaches. 

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2013-008-SI-05
Who it affects:Users of B. McCann Road level crossing
Status:Partially addressed


 

Level crossing stakeholder consultation

The level crossing safety coordination processes did not involve a key stakeholder, the gypsum mine owner, who had knowledge of the changing traffic profile.  The mine owner was aware of the increasing numbers of heavy vehicles using B. McCann Road since 2010 and the associated changing risk profile of the level crossing. 

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2013-008-SI-06
Who it affects:Stakeholders associated with level crossings
Status:Adequately addressed


 

ALCAM crossing assessment processes

When the crossing was last surveyed under the ALCAM program, the measurement of the road angle resulted in an overestimation of the acute road-to-rail interface angle.  The implication of overestimating the acute interface angle is that sighting deficiencies may be underestimated or not identified.

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2013-008-SI-07
Who it affects:Stakeholders associated with risk assessment of level crossings
Status:Adequately addressed


 

Inconsistency between permitted and published line speed

There existed an inconsistency between the track speed used for crossing assessment and permitted train speeds. The ALCAM process used a train speed equal to the track line speed, whereas V/Line systems for evaluating driver behaviour permitted an exceedence of line speed by up to 10 km/h for short distances. 

Safety issue details
Issue number:RO-2013-008-SI-08
Who it affects:Stakeholders associated with risk assessment of level crossings
Status:Adequately addressed

 
General details
Date: 12 February 2013 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1320 EDT Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
Location   (show map):near Lake Charm  
State: Victoria  
Release date: 07 October 2014 Occurrence category: Accident 
Report status: Final Highest injury level: Minor 
 
Train details
Train registration: 8042 
Type of operation: Passenger 
Sector: Passenger - regional 
Damage to train: Minor 
Departure point:Swan Hill, Vic
Destination:Melbourne, Vic
 
 
 
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Last update 19 October 2016