What happened

On 19 March 2013, EL Zorro freight train 9261 travelling to Warrnambool, Victoria collided with a northbound motor vehicle at the Brown Street level crossing in Allansford (21 km east of Warrnambool) at about 0730. Vehicular traffic across the Brown Street level crossing was controlled by warning and stop signs (passive controls).

The motor vehicle driver sustained fatal injuries. The train crew were not injured in the accident. The motor vehicle was severely damaged while the train sustained minor damage.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the driver of the motor vehicle did not come to a stop at the railway crossing Stop line and proceeded into the level crossing and the path of the freight train. The ATSB concluded that the driver’s familiarity with this crossing, combined with the expectation that a train would not be present due to the low frequency of rail traffic on this line, probably influenced the motorist’s behaviour.

When at the Stop line south of the crossing – the direction the motor vehicle driver approached the crossing – there was adequate sighting to the east, the direction from which the train approached.

For approaches other than the occurrence scenario, the level crossing did not meet the requirements of Australian Standard AS 1742.7-2007, Manual of uniform traffic control devices, Part 7: Railway crossings. This issue was not found to be contributory to this accident.

Prior to this accident, this level crossing was identified as having sighting issues by the infrastructure manager V/Line and was included in the 2013/14 Fix Country Level Crossings Program, a Victorian Government funded program to upgrade rural level crossings by equipping them with active controls including lights, bells and boom barriers.

What's been done as a result

Warrnambool City Council has temporarily closed the Brown Street Level Crossing until it is equipped with active traffic controls.

A minor deficiency with respect to the signage north of the level crossing on Brown Street has been rectified by the Warrnambool City Council.

Safety message

This occurrence highlights the need for motor vehicle drivers using railway level crossings to be vigilant, observe road warning signs, obey road rules and look out for trains.