PacNat to conduct level crossing safety trials

Pacific National is one of two freight rail operators conducting trials to make crossings safer

PacNat to conduct level crossing safety trials
Pacific National will take part in this safety trial project

Australian freight rail operators Pacific National (PN) and Aurizon are conducting lighting trials to improve safety across Australia’s level crossings.

The move comes after the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released its findings of an investigation into a 2020 PN train collision.

The investigation found technical issues caused the other train to stop, with the PN train receiving no warning before crashing into the back of the carriage.

PN is now helping coordinate the project with the Freight on Rail Group and the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator (ONRSR) to improve the safety of crossings for freight trains.

Both PN and Aurizon are undertaking the trials simultaneously at different sites to evaluate the best way forward for the project.

Aurizon says it will be conducting two lighting trials with the CBH Group in Western Australia.

"The first relates to higher-efficiency lighting and replacing halogen headlights on locomotives with LED headlights that are brighter and longer-lasting," the Aurizon spokesperson says.

"The second relates to new front-mounted headboard lights that are being integrated with the existing ditchlight circuits so they are activated when the locomotive is approaching a level crossing."

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Aurizon says a range of factors will come under consideration during the trial, which is expected to be completed by the end of May.

PN will conduct trials mainly in the Hunter Valley and regional New South Wales, as its trials are expected to be completed by the end of June.

The project expects both companies to share learnings and information from the trials, as the campaign arises following two men dying in a level crossing collision near Young in NSW on February 23, 2021.

The victims’ families believe improved visibility, including better lighting at level crossings and on trains, could have prevented the incident from occurring.

Recent reports from the Australasian Centre for Rail Innovation (ACRI), including this year’s Freight Train Visibility review, says more testing is required from operators to improve the safety and conditions of freight trains at level crossings.

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