Campaign launched targeting Rocky's unsafe rail crossings
KATIE Kermond or her passengers never heard or saw the train coming on the fateful early morning she passed through the intersection of Denison and William Streets in Rockhampton.
Ms Kermond said the authorities later referred to the Spirit of Queensland train as the "quiet train” which slammed into the rental vehicle she was driving in with three passengers, pushing them 20m down the tracks, on July 15 last year.
"Miraculously, we all walked away from the accident,” Ms Kermond said.
Hearing emergency workers say, "this is such a dangerous street, there's been fatalities” spurred her to address the situation.
As a choreographer from Sydney, Ms Kermond has travelled to Rockhampton several times over the years and was on her way home from the a cabaret show she had helped run for the River Festival when the accident occurred.
She said it was drizzling, the intersection was poorly lit and with no flashing lights or boom gates, the last thing she expected was to encounter a train.
Ms Kermond said she dreaded coming forward to confront the issue, but was determined to see the safety situation resolved by launching two petitions calling for change, with one due to be tabled in Queensland Parliament on May 15.
Ms Kermond said there are seven intersections in the Rockhampton CBD that lack boom gates and flashing lights.
She said given 28 trains pass through daily, this represented a significant safety concern that the community widely acknowledged needed to be addressed.
In 2012, two bull riders were lucky to escape with their lives after being hit by a train at the same intersection.
She has been told that a multi-faceted issue with overlapping jurisdictions required the collaborative efforts of the Queensland Government, Rockhampton Regional Council and Queensland Rail to address this situation, until the eventual implementation of the rail bypass.
Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow said they were aware of the accident at the time.
"Katie is a regular collaborator in artistic and creative endeavours in Rockhampton,” Cr Strelow said.
"That said, responsibility for safety in relation to trains falls entirely under the State Government.
"It's not that we don't care, it's just that it's not ours.”
Queensland Rail chief executive officer Nick Easy said following the incident, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) undertook an extensive investigation.
"No adverse findings against Queensland Rail, or safety improvements, were suggested by the ATSB as a result of this investigation,” Mr Easy said.
"A range of warning and safety controls are in place at the Williams Street level crossing, including safety signage and pavement markings and the maximum speed for rail traffic at this location is also reduced to 25 kilometres per hour.”
Mr Easy said all Queensland Rail level crossings were designed and operate in accordance with national safety standards and are assessed against the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model (ALCAM) to ensure the appropriate level crossing protective infrastructure is in place.
A review was conducted of the level crossing at the intersection of Denison and Williams Streets which confirmed it is compliant with this model and "meets all of the necessary safety standards”.
Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke said he had been advised that after the accident at the William Street crossing a full investigation was undertaken by Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and there was no adverse finding against Queensland Rail or any recommend safety improvements.
"There are a number of warning and safety controls in place at the Williams Street level crossing, including safety signage and pavement markings,” Mr O'Rourke said.
"Also the maximum speed for rail traffic at this location is also reduced to 25 kilometres per hour. All Queensland Rail level crossings are designed and operate in accordance with national safety standards.
"Queensland Rail has assured the Government that it is committed to ensuring the safety of road users, employees, and customers.”
Transport Minister Mark Bailey was yet to comment, but The Morning Bulletin understands his position was in line with Queensland Rail's.
If you would like to sign the petition to fix Rockhampton's level rail crossings, go here.