Rail safety investigations & reports

Level crossing collision between freight train 5KQ7 and a road coach at Norlane, Victoria on 2 April 2020

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase

Final report

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What happened

On the morning of 2 April 2020, a road coach operated by Sandringham Charter Coaches was providing a V/Line train replacement service between Melbourne and Waurn Ponds in Geelong. At about 1049, the coach departed North Shore station in Norlane (Geelong) bound for North Geelong Railway Station. There was one passenger aboard the bus.

The coach travelled along Station Street and was veering left to cross the Station Street level crossing when the crossing warning system activated in response to an approaching freight train. The driver of the coach immediately applied the brakes, and the coach was stopped, but within the crossing.

A short time later as the train approached the crossing, the train crew observed the coach. The locomotive driver made an emergency brake application and the co-driver began to sound the horn. The coach driver heard the train horn and attempted, unsuccessfully, to reverse the coach.

The train was unable to stop and impacted the front-left corner of the coach at about 1050. The coach driver and the sole passenger were injured in the collision and were taken to hospital. The coach driver was released from hospital the same day, and the passenger the next day.

Title image - wreckage of bus (left) and damage to train (right).

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that the coach had stopped past the boom barrier with the front-left corner of the coach foul of the western standard-gauge track. The coach driver reported that they had stopped in response to the crossing warning signals and was reluctant to proceed across the crossing because of fear of a complaint. The acute road-to-rail track angle may have influenced the driver’s perception of the crossing and the position of the left-front corner of the bus relative to the track. The driver also reported not expecting a train because they were operating a train-replacement service.

Had the driver not stopped the coach, there was adequate time to complete the crossing prior to the arrival of the freight train.

What has been done as a result

Westernport Road Lines issued a safety alert to their drivers, reminding drivers that level crossings must be regarded as live, even if they are providing rail replacement services.

Safety message

Motorists need to be aware that in situations where passenger train services are not operating, freight trains may be operating, and normal safety precautions should be observed.

Download final report
[Download  PDF: 2.06MB]

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety actions

Sources and submissions

General details
Date: 02 April 2020   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1052 AEST   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Norlane, Geelong   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: Victoria    
Release date: 28 January 2021   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Train details

Train details
Line operator ARTC  
Train operator Pacific National  
Train registration 5KQ7  
Type of operation Grain train (freight) service  
Sector Freight  
Damage to train Minor  
Departure point Murtoa, Victoria  
Destination Werris Creek, New South Wales  
Last update 03 February 2021