Gerogery level crossing accident


Gerogery level crossing accident

The Gerogery level crossing accident occurred at Bells Road on the Olympic Highway, where it crossed the Main Southern railway in Gerogery, New South Wales, Australia. The accident occurred on January 27, 2001 at 4.07pm and resulted in five fatalities in the car that hit a CountryLink XPT travelling at 160kmh.

Location

Far from being a straight-forward level crossing where a straight road crosses a straight railway line, the Gerogery crossing was more complicated:
* the road has an intersection at the level crossing.
* the important road does sharp left and right bends.
* the dog leg is roughly east-west and may have put the sun in the driver's eyes.
* the red flashing lights cannot properly point at both the main road and minor road approaches.
* the 5 people killed, while locals, had recently received their driving licences.

This crash, through the intervention of the local State member, Mr Daryl Maguire MP, Member for Wagga Wagga led the NSW Government to request the Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety (the STAYSAFE Committee) of New South Wales Parliament to conduct a review of the safety of railway level crossings. The report of the Committee (STAYSAFE 56, 2004) is a comprehensive review of road, vehicle, driver and railway-related factors involved in level crossing incidents and crashes. The findings and recommendations of the report have led to major reform of railway level crossing safety across Australia.

An overbridge has now been built, with completion occurring on December 16, 2005. Originally costed in 2001 at $12.5 million, by June 2004 the cost had increased to $18.5 million, [cite web
url=http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/la/qala.nsf/ad22cc96ba50555dca257051007aa5c8/ca25708400173f67ca25704a000b3fec!OpenDocument
title=2479 - GEROGERY RAIL OVERPASS
work= Parliament of New South Wales: Questions & Answers Paper No. 86.
date June 24 2004 (answered July 29 2004)
publisher=www.parliament.nsw.gov.au
accessdate=2008-08-11
] and was finally completed at a cost of $24.5 million. [cite web
url=http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LA20070621042
title=Tynan Road, Albury, Level Crossing
work=NSW Parliament: Private Members Statements
date=June 21 2007
author=Greg Aplin
publisher=www.parliament.nsw.gov.au
accessdate=2008-08-11
] The overbridge is named the "Five Mates" bridge, in memory of the five friends killed: Kyle Michael Wooden, Luke Gellie Milne, Cameron Michael Tucker, Graham Charles Kelly and Ben Wilkins - who had been heading for an evening rugby league match in Albury.

Inquest

During the coronial inquest, evidence given by one train passenger suggested the teenagers had been racing to beat the train through the crossing.cite web
url=http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/13/1084289819358.html
title=Riding a slow train to nowhere
date=May 14, 2004
work=Sydney Morning Herald
author=Joseph Kerr
publisher=smh.com.au
accessdate=2008-08-11
]

This testimony was strenuously refuted by the families of the boys. At the Coronial Inquest, Coroner Mr Carl Milovanovich said of the allegation: Quotation|In my view there is certainly one hypothesis that can be discounted immediately,and that is a suggestion that the boys were attempting to race the train. The fact that this version of events received so much publicity, and by innuendo given unwarranted credibility, was most unfortunate and most distressing for the families of the deceased. I wish to make it very clear to the family and to the media who will no doubt report this matter, that I, as coroner, have categorically rejected any suggestion that the boys were attempting to race the train.

Rather, the level crossing was seen as contributing to the deaths of the 5 young men. In summing up, Mr Milovanovich stated:cite web
url=http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/13/1084289819358.html
title=Riding a slow train to nowhere
date=May 14, 2004
work=Sydney Morning Herald
author=Joseph Kerr
publisher=smh.com.au
accessdate=2008-08-11
] Quotation|The acute angle of the curve from a 100kmh area leaves little room for braking if the bells or lights are not seen or heard or for a person who may not be familiar with that section of the road.

The coroner went on to say:cite web
url=http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/13/1084289819358.html
title=Riding a slow train to nowhere
date=May 14, 2004
work=Sydney Morning Herald
author=Joseph Kerr
publisher=smh.com.au
accessdate=2008-08-11
] Quotation|The real tragedy in this matter is not whether the driver made an error of judgement, but that in this day and age when we all strive to reap the benefits of new technology, such as computers, advances in medicine, trains that travel at 160kmh and even faster, we still have a 19th-century approach to level crossings on the basis that they are traversed by horse and cart.

References

External links

* The level crossing is at coord|35.879228|S|147.000675|E|type:landmark|display=inline,title


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