A fatal accident at a railway level crossing near Young in February has prompted a call from the Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW for urgent action on safety at all level crossings across the state.
Members at the association’s annual conference in Bega earlier this month passed a motion of urgency requesting the NSW Government to commit immediately to increasing the safety measures in place across all level crossings in NSW, “so that wherever possible and practicable, all public level crossings are equipped with warning lights as a minimum safety feature”. The motion also included a call for advocacy for increased safety measures at private crossings.
The motion applies to the high number of ‘passive’ level crossings, or those that are only marked by a stop or give way sign.
The motion was put to the conference as an urgency motion after two local men were killed when their B-Double truck was hit by a freight train at a passive level crossing at Bribbaree, about 70km north west of Young, on February 23 this year.
The accident shocked the local community, and the fiancée of one of the victims started an online petition in March calling for flashing lights to be made mandatory at all level crossings in Australia. CWA of NSW is encouraging its members to “support the petition as a matter of urgency”.
CWA of NSW President Stephanie Stanhope said safety at level crossings where there were no flashing lights or boom gates had always been an issue and it was time something more was done to prevent further lives being lost.
“We know there are more than 3800 level crossings on both public roads and private roads in NSW and many fall into this ‘passive’ category. We also know that a range of factors can impede people when it comes to seeing a train coming towards these crossings, and without a clear warning, like flashing lights, drivers can mistakenly believe it’s safe to cross,” she said.
“Obviously there is a cost attached to these kinds of upgrades, but we’d argue the human cost is far higher, and that rural and regional residents should expect the same measures of safety as those in metropolitan areas.”
Ms Stanhope said with the endorsement of the motion by conference delegates, the association would now make representations to the NSW Government and do whatever was necessary to have this important issue prioritised.