The scene of the October collision. PHOTO/FILE
The collision between a truck and train in the Waingawa industrial area in October was forewarned but measures are being taken to improve safety at the level crossing.
Carterton District Council senior roading officer JP Irwin said at a council infrastructure and strategy committee meeting he had been told trucks were moving too slowly across the intersection of Norman Ave and Waingawa Rd weeks before the collision.
Mr Irwin said he had heard claims the warning bells were not going, but he did not believe that was the case.
The problem was that trucks were moving too slowly, he said.
“It’s lucky no one was hurt.”
It was exacerbated by the limited sightline the train driver had — due to a curve in the rail line — and the speed at which the train was moving.
The council is now pushing for new pavement markings to be painted on the intersection and KiwiRail is also making changes by slowing train speeds at the crossing to lower the chances of further incidents at the crossing.
On October 20, a passenger train flipped a truck’s trailer unit on impact – sending logs sprawling across the road.
The cab of the Renalls truck was not damaged and the driver was not injured.
Speaking after the meeting, Carterton Mayor John Booth said it was “very fortunate” that there had not been injuries, or worse, from the October collision.
Mr Booth said the council wanted to paint hatched lines across the area, but that the process had to be overseen by KiwiRail. “It can’t be done without them.”
Before the markings could be installed, road repairs and resurfacing also needed to take place, which again would be overseen by KiwiRail.
Renalls transport manager Bryce Keane said that it was obvious something needed to change at that intersection.
Not just because of that accident but because of the public confusion around how that intersection should be used, he said.
Mr Keane said it was about keeping all truck drivers safe.
A KiwiRail spokesperson said the company had been working closely with the council and local trucking companies around how to manage a significant increase in road traffic over the Norman Ave level crossing, following a large amount of industrial development in the area.
The spokesperson said several changes had been implemented, including reducing train speeds at the crossing.
KiwiRail plans to meet with the council and trucking companies on this issue next month.
The October collision comes amongst a spate of collisions between heavy vehicles and trains.
According to TrackSAFE NZ, there have been four of these collisions in the past three months.
They have launched a research project aimed at improving safety for heavy vehicle drivers around railway level crossings.
Market research company UMR has been commissioned to undertake the study, a collaborative project with NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail and the Road Transport Forum.
TrackSAFE Foundation NZ Manager Megan Drayton said it would be the first study in the country that specifically considered the views of heavy vehicle operators.
“We really hope the insights we get will lead to improvements in safety for truck drivers as they drive over level crossings,” she said.
“While collisions between trains and heavy vehicles are relatively infrequent in comparison with vehicle to vehicle accidents on the road, they have the potential for considerable loss of life and serious trauma.”
Since 2010, there have been more than 23 collisions between trains and heavy vehicles.
A police investigation into the collision that occurred on October 20 is ongoing.