Since the Kerang rail disaster, you’d have to have been living under a rock not to know that the safety aspects of railway crossings are a hot topic of debate at the moment.
It seems particularly pertinent to this region and not just because of the large number of railway crossings in the area. Who could forget the hypocrisy of the local media who (in stark contrast to the national and international media) refused to demonise and in some cases virtually lauded Christiaan Scholl, the driver of the truck involved in the collision which claimed eleven lives and affected many more. “Sure he killed eleven innocent people through his negligence and dereliction of his responsibilities as a road user, but he’s a LOCAL… we HAVE to support him” came the cry.
Parochialism? Give me a break.
Sadly, I remain unconvinced.
Disturbingly the exact same crossing (I believe the exact same passenger train service) was involved in another fatal traffic collision since then. This time the driver of the car was fatally injured.
The calls for mandatory boom gates and lights at level crossings have reached fever pitch, plans to compromise with rumble-strips don’t go far enough in the eyes of some commentators.
The recently completed “five mates” crossing just north of Albury, built at enormous expense and named for the occupants a vehicle involved in a collision with a train at the site seems to be taking the solution to it’s obvious -even ludicrous- extreme.
Officially it was never proven that the occupants of the car were racing the train to beat it to the crossing, unofficially…yeah right!!
In the interests of sensitivity I’ll refrain from suggesting that particular development on the Olympic Highway might have been more appropriately named “five idiots crossing” but you get the idea I’m sure.
I must admit I was swaying heavily towards the idea of boom-gates at level crossings as a mandatory reform, I think the financial cost is probably negligable in comparison to the cost in human misery caused annually by our road toll. That was until I hit upon this pearl of wisdom from bastion of all things fair and balanced (as long as you happen to be a retrograde neo-conservative ludite of course) the Border Mail.
I’ll summarise for those prudent enough not to follow the link, this guy, claims he had been waiting at a flashing boom gate for ten minuites, saw no train coming so decided to cross. Was caught on camera (they forget to mention it was the Border Mail’s camera NOT an official police camera) and fined by police after the Border Mail saw fit to publish said images in the April 5th edition of their
scurrilous toilet-paper community minded publication.
Well it’s nice to see that Today Tonight and ACA don’t hold monopoly over journalistic vigilantism, not content to merely report the news, it seems the BM is now in the buisiness of drumming some up when the urge takes them or it happens to be a slow news day. Lovely.
So, let me pose the question rhetorically to you the reader, what would YOU do if you had been waiting at a level crossing for a full TEN MINUITES with narry a train in sight?
In this instance the chap in question claims to have been waived around the gates by an employee of the railway on a previous occasion so it begs the question was the boom-gate functioning correctly in the first place?
All legitimate considerations, that’s without the hypothetical “what if there was an emergency?” type questions which inevatibly spring to mind as legitimate reasons someone might not wait at a level crossing.
Well I’m glad you asked.
“We’ve got skin like rhinoceroses (sic.) when it comes to excuses” says Wodonga police Sgt Cameron Roberts. To paraphrase, “We don’t care if you are right, wrong or in-between, we enforce the letter of the law and not the spirit it was intended to represent”.
Nice to know the empathetic approach is alive and well in law enforcement. Great police work Cameron, not only do you let the local newspaper do your policing for you, but you then go on public record with a statement about your own inflexibility and “robo-cop”type approach.
Do you think he’ll recieve an official commendation for that little escapade? Possibly, this is the Victorian police force after all.