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ATSB reviews level crossing infrastructure following Barrier Highway report

The ATSB has released a first report into the fatal level crossing collision on New Year’s Eve, with initial safety concerns raised

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has unveiled its latest preliminary report into the truck and Pacific National train level crossing collision on New Year’s Eve last year.

The ATSB provided an update on its investigations into the fatal collision near Broken Hill, with the preliminary report noting that further examination is needed on road-rail interface infrastructure at level crossings around the nation.

“The preliminary report includes evidence gathered so far on the sequence of events, the geometry of the level crossing itself, and the protections in place along the approach path taken by the truck prior to the collision,” ATSB director of transport safety Kerri Hughes says.

“As our investigation progresses, it will include further examination of the road-rail interface infrastructure, and analysis of recorded data from the locomotive, the truck and network control.”

The preliminary report says an A-double road-train departed Yunta in South Australia to travel along the Barrier Highway towards Broken Hill, NSW shortly after 9AM on New Year’s Eve.

A short time later, the Pacific National freight train left Broken Hill, leaving towards Yunta.

At roughly 10.15AM, the truck entered the level crossing, which didn’t have boom gates but instead an active warning system of lights and bells, and collided with the train, derailing both locomotives and six multi-platform freight wagons while fatally injuring both train drivers.

The ATSB says a large amount of rolling stock and rail and level crossing infrastructure was also either destroyed or substantially damaged.

As part of its ongoing investigation, the ATSB will also consider similar occurrences, the operation of the truck and train and safety interface agreements.

A final report will be released at the conclusion of the investigation.

“Our ongoing investigation will review train emergency alerting and location systems, and will include an analysis of locomotive survivability aspects,” Hughes says.

“Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken.”

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