At about 1009 on 31 August 2013, passenger train 7MA8, known as ‘The Overland’, was travelling from Melbourne to Adelaide when it collided with a Holden Rodeo dual cab utility on the Mahers Road level crossing at Inverleigh, Victoria.
The sole occupant of the utility was seriously injured and transferred to Royal Melbourne Hospital. The locomotive crew suffered from shock, but none of the train’s 103 passengers were injured.
What the ATSB found
The ATSB’s investigation found that the driver of the utility was travelling along a maintenance access track adjacent to the railway before he turned into Mahers Road. As a result, he was provided with no warning of the approaching train.
The investigation also found that, at some time in the past, the railway property boundary fence had been removed, thereby providing local vehicle access along the railway maintenance track. As a result, over time and with regular use, the false perception that the maintenance track was part of Gallagher Road was created and reinforced.
Since the maintenance access track was not a public road, neither the ARTC nor the Golden Plains Shire had identified a need to provide traffic control.
What's been done as a result
The Australian Rail Track Corporation and the Golden Plains Shire have advised that they will work together to permanently isolate the rail corridor from Gallagher Road.
This incident highlights the need for road and rail authorities to work together in maintaining the integrity of fences and structures used to exclude public access to the railway corridor.
The occurrence also highlights the need for drivers of motor vehicles to be vigilant at railway level crossings.