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Final Report

Summary

What happened

On 23 September 2015, an eastbound road-train truck, hauling grain, collided into the side of Pacific National grain train 8834N, (travelling on the main line between Narromine and Peak Hill) at the Tullamore – Narromine Road railway crossing, about 4 km southwest of Narromine, in New South Wales. The railway crossing was controlled by flashing lights, an audible warning device (bell); passive warning signs installed on the road approaches and road surface markings.

The collision and a post-impact fire destroyed the prime mover and one of the two trailers; the truck driver was fatally injured. The crew of the train were physically unhurt. As a result of the impact two wagons, were damaged, one of which derailed. Some of the railway crossing infrastructure (flashing lights) was destroyed and required replacement.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the driver of the road-train truck was probably travelling too fast for the prevailing conditions, and entered the Tullamore – Narromine Road railway crossing while it was active, and the flashing lights were operating. It was concluded that the truck driver’s attention was probably focussed on negotiating the sweeping right-hand curve that preceded the crossing, at a critical time when he needed to check for the activation of the crossing. It is likely that when the driver perceived that the flashing lights were operating, he was too close to the crossing to stop, and collided with the train.

The ATSB identified a number of areas of potential improvement related to road design (signage and standards associated with railway crossing traffic control) especially with respect to curved approaches, before railway crossings.

What's been done as a result

Furney Flour Mills, the Narromine Shire Council, and Standards Australia have implemented a range of initiatives to reduce the risk of a similar occurrence in the future, including:

  • enhanced employee training and medical assessment initiatives
  • provision of additional (road) approach passive warning signs, (W7-4) plus a review of road alignment and railway crossing road approach speeds
  • a review of AS 1742.7-2016, with respect to railway crossing approaches, in particular curved approaches, and the location of signage.

Safety message

Although the road rules (NSW - Road Rules 2014) make motorists primarily responsible for avoiding a collision with a train at railway crossings, prudent road design and/or advance warning of a train’s presence at railway crossings should be considered as a strategy to lower the risk of road and rail vehicle collisions.

Road and rail authorities should consider added measures to enhance the situational awareness of motorists approaching railway crossings, especially at locations with restricted sighting due to curved approach roads.

It is imperative that road vehicle drivers always approach railway crossings with extreme care. The level of care and attention required increases as road vehicle gross mass increases.

Road-train truck at collision site

Road-train truck at collision site
Source: P. Smith

The occurrence

Context

Safety analysis

Findings

Safety actions

Sources and submissions

 
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