Archive for January, 2009

One dead as truck hits cyclist

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

AAP January 24 2009

A cyclist has died and another is critically injured after a truck ploughed into them on the M7 motorway in Sydney’s west, police say.

Three cyclists were riding South on the M7 at Eastern Creek shortly after 6.30am (AEDT) TODAY when the truck hit two of them.
“The two men were riding South on the M7 in the breakdown lane when they were struck by the truck,”‘ a police spokesman said.
“One man has died at the scene and another has been taken to hospital in a critical condition.

A third rider, a woman, was not hit and was taken to hospital suffering shock,'” he said.
“The man driving the truck stopped at the scene and is also being treated for shock,” he said.
The M7 was closed to southbound traffic.

Mickel on track?

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Six level crossings in urgent need of upgrade

Anna Caldwell, James O’Loan and Peter Michael

January 02, 2009 11:00pm

Train drivers approach at least six intersections between Cairns and Mackay with dread because of a dangerous lack of visibility.

The Courier-Mail can reveal that six of the eight level crossings on that stretch of track have been identified by a Queensland Rail taskforce as requiring urgent upgrades.

The site of Thursday’s fatality where a garbage truck driver was killed at Mundoo, south of Innisfail is one, as is the site of November’s double train driver fatality at the Conn crossing near Cardwell.

The others are at Saunders Beach, near Townsville; Balgal Beach, near Bluewater; Rungoo Crossing, near Cardwell; and Bootooloo, at Bowen.

Les Moffitt, a representative of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union said the six intersections hadn’t been prioritised..

“This list isn’t exhaustive and some of these may not even make the final cut – these are the crossings we have identified so far,” Mr Moffitt said.

“It is tragic we’ve had the three (recent) fatalities, but the number of near misses that have never been publicised would stun most people.”

One QR driver who has driven the Townsville-Cairns route for 10 years said he felt dread every time he approached the death trap crossings.

“You are always triple aware when you approach those intersections,” the man, who can’t be identified, said.

The $10 million for upgrades comes from QR’s existing budget and will not be allocated until the taskforce reports in the next few weeks.

Transport Minister John Mickel said he would not pre-empt where or how the money should be spent and would wait to hear what the taskforce had recommended.

Rail Crossing carnage…Sunlander crash NQ

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Anna Caldwell and Patrick Lion

January 01, 2009 02:15pm


THE level crossing where a the Sunlander train was involved in a fatal collision had been earmarked only two weeks ago as a top priority for upgrade.A 40-year-old man was killed when his garbage truck and the southbound Sunlander collided on the crossing yesterday.

At 11.20am the truck driver, understood to be father-of-two Terry Brown, attempted to pass through the crossing – which has no boom gates or warning lights – at Mundoo, 5km south of Innisfail, when the collision happened, killing him instantly.Of the 122 people on the train, six were injured, including three pregnant women.The injured were taken to hospital. Many more were treated at the scene for cuts and bruises.

Witnesses told how rescuers rushed to help the driver who was trapped in twisted metal.“But it was no use. He was gone,” a visibly shaken Luke O’Brien said.It is understood the driver was off duty and was filling in for a fellow driver who had called in sick.

“He was helping out a mate, that is what makes it all the more upsetting,” local Les Taylor said.

Both train drivers walked away uninjured from the collision which derailed both locomotives and six carriages on the Cairns to Brisbane service.It came after two train drivers were killed in a level crossing collision with a truck on the Bruce Highway, south of Cardwell, on November 27.

Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Employees representative Greg Smith said it was a state disgrace that another death could occur.Mr Smith said the intersection was a death trap that should have been fixed long ago. The track speed limit at the site of the collision was 80km/h.”It is a fast spot and it is a blind spot and it is close to a residential area,” he said.”It is nothing short of a disaster waiting to happen.”He said it was tragic that the new Government taskforce had only just named the crossing as a top priority for upgrade.

“The taskforce is a good thing – but it has come too late for this man,” Mr Smith said.

However, Queensland Rail acting chief executive Deborah O’Toole said the group had not heard anything about the Mundoo crossing coming out of the review at this stage.”Not that I’m aware of,” Ms O’Toole said.

She defended the group’s safety record, saying a public education campaign was at present focusing on level crossing safety.

Mr Smith said he had spoken to the two train drivers, both from Cairns, who were involved in yesterday’s collision.

“They have expressed their devastation and they have just said there was absolutely nothing they could do to avoid the collision,” he said.

Yesterday Queensland Transport extended the terms of reference for the inquiry with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau into the Cardwell crash to include the latest accident.Amid calls from the Opposition for more action in funding level crossing safety and less reviews, Transport Minister John Mickel yesterday would only promise a full investigation as he extended his sympathies to the families of the deceased and those injured.

“We want to reassure (Queenslanders) we will get to the bottom of this,” he said. “Obviously our sympathies go to the family of the driver.”

Opposition transport spokesman Tim Nicholls said the Government had to act after underfunding level crossing safety. He said it was telling that only 200 of the state’s 1800 level crossings had lights and boom gates.

An interim report into the Cardwell crash is due within weeks but Mr Mickel said he did not want investigators to rush the investigation.

Additional reporting Peter Michael