The federal government has responded to a recent discussion around national level crossing safety issues by releasing its National Level Crossing Safety Strategy 2023-2032.
The federal government says the strategy is more important than ever as level crossings remain the highest public safety risk on the rail network.
The strategy comes after an incident on New Year’s Eve in 2023 where two rail workers lost their lives, leading to a safety campaign starting from rail operator Pacific National.
The strategy has been developed by the National Level Crossing Safety Committee, which comprises representatives from federal, state and local governments, rail industry associations and regulators, and represents an ongoing commitment to reducing fatalities and injuries at the more than 20,000 level crossings intersecting with roads and pathways across Australia.
“Every year, Australians are being killed or injured on our level crossing network, resulting in untold mental, physical and emotional trauma for all involved, as well as millions of dollars in damages,” federal transport minister Catherine King says.
“The federal government is committed to working towards zero harm at our rail crossings.
“The community and stakeholders have long advocated for improved investment, better safety measures, education, enforcement, and harnessing technology – and this strategy sets out a clear path to achieving those aims.
“I am confident the vision set out in this 10-year strategy and the practical actions it will facilitate will help save lives across the next decade, and into the future.”
The strategy sets out a clear vision for working towards zero harm on the level crossing network, including:
- Improving public education and enforcement
- Leveraging emerging technology and innovation
- Identifying early, low-cost and effective safety improvements
- Developing improved data and knowledge
- Increasing coordination and knowledge sharing by those responsible for safety.
To identify any further action that could be taken by governments, regulators, and industry, a rail level crossing safety roundtable will be held in Brisbane on March 6.
Rail workers, including train drivers, will be represented through their unions.
The federal government is providing $180 million for the Regional Australia Level Crossing Safety Program, including $160 million over four years from 2023-24 to 2026-27 to support lower-cost, high-priority railway crossing upgrades.
These upgrades include installing flashing lights, audible warning devices, boom barriers, enhanced signage and pedestrian mazes upgrades to increase the visibility of crossings on both sides of the roadway in response to approaching trains.