A fatal accident at a railway level crossing in regional NSW, earlier this year, has prompted a call from the Country Women’s Association (CWA) of NSW for urgent action on safety across the state.
Members at the organisation’s annual conference in Bega this month, including many from the Hunter, passed a motion of urgency requesting the NSW Government to commit immediately to increasing preventative measures at all level crossings in NSW.
They would like to see, wherever possible and practicable, all public level crossings equipped with warning lights as a minimum safety feature.
The motion also included a call for advocacy for increased safety measures at private locations.
It applies to the high number of “passive” level crossings, or those that are only marked by a stop or give way sign.
It was put to the conference as an urgency motion after two men were killed when their B-Double truck was hit by a freight train at a passive level crossing at Bribbaree, about 70km north-west of Young, on February 23.
The accident shocked the local community, and the fiancée of one of the victims started an online petition in March calling for flashing lights to be made mandatory at all level crossings in Australia.
Now, CWA of NSW is encouraging its members to “support the petition as a matter of urgency”.
President Stephanie Stanhope said safety at level crossings where there were no flashing lights or boom gates had always been an issue and it was time something more was done to prevent further lives being lost.
“We know there are more than 3800 level crossings on both public roads and private roads in NSW and many fall into this ‘passive’ category,” she explained.
“We also know that a range of factors can impede people when it comes to seeing a train coming towards these crossings.
“And, without a clear warning, like flashing lights, drivers can mistakenly believe it’s safe to cross.
“Obviously there is a cost attached to these kinds of upgrades.
“But, we’d argue the human cost is far higher, and that rural and regional residents should expect the same measures of safety as those in metropolitan areas.”
Ms Stanhope said with the endorsement of the motion by conference delegates, the association would now make representations to the NSW Government and do whatever was necessary to have this important issue prioritised.