Rail safety investigations & reports

Level Crossing Collision, Birkenhead, South Australia, 5 March 2008

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At about 1448 on Wednesday 5 March 2008, a double road-train loaded with bulk cement drove into the path of a train that was conveying four empty fuel tankers at the Stirling Street level crossing, Birkenhead, SA. The impact speed of both the train and road-train was low (about 15 km/h) but nevertheless sufficient to roll the prime mover and the first semitrailer onto their sides and to derail the lead bogie of the train's locomotive. The road-train driver was slightly injured; the two train drivers were shaken but otherwise unhurt.

Road traffic at the Stirling Street level crossing was controlled by 'Stop' sign assemblies. At the time of the collision, the level crossing was in the process of being converted from passive (Stop sign) to active control (flashing lights and boom barriers) as part of a major road upgrade called the 'Port River Expressway Project'. The investigation found that the Stop sign assembly was moved from its original position sometime during the upgrade and a 'Stop' line was not visible on the road surface. In the absence of a Stop line, visibility along the rail line was, at best, intermittent.

The investigation concluded that it is likely the road-train did not stop at the Stop sign assembly and travelled over the Stirling Street level crossing at a relatively constant speed of about 15 km/h. The investigation also found that the road-train involved in the collision was not authorised to operate on Stirling Street as no Heavy Vehicle Permit (HVP) for this vehicle had been issued by the Department for Transport, Energy and Infrastructure.

Safety issues identified by the investigation relate to compliance of the level crossing with relevant standards, notification to the rail infrastructure manager of a non-compliance identified at audit and the issuing of HVP's for road-train routes that involve level crossings. The ATSB has acknowledged proactive safety action taken by relevant parties in response to those identified safety issues. In addition, the ATSB has issued four safety recommendations.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 3.5MB]
General details
Date: 05 March 2008   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: CDT   Investigation level: Systemic - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location: Birkenhead    
State: South Australia    
Release date: 06 October 2009   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Train details

Train details
Train registration Train 4A13  
Type of operation Freight Train  
Damage to train Minor  
Last update 03 April 2020