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Vic, Commuter train kills driver in level crossing smash.
Commuter train kills driver in level crossing smash

    * Lucy Battersby
    * November 18, 2008 - 10:04AM

A horrific scene greeted emergency services following a collision between a commuter train and a car near Dandenong this morning.

One man died in the smash, which occurred at a level crossing on Abbotts Road, Dandenong South, on the Cranbourne line at 7.20am, police said.

A police spokeswoman said the boom gate was down at the time of the collision. The train was a six-carriage Connex service that left Flinders Street Station at 6.20am.

"It appears the car has gone through the boom gates and been hit by a train," a Victoria Police spokeswoman said.

At the scene, Age Online reporter Reko Rennie said the small, white car had been "squashed like a tin can" and pushed hundreds of metres from the point of impact. He said it appeared the body of the driver was still in the car while police waited for the coroner. One of the boom gates was smashed.

"There's wreckage strewn along the line and police evidence markers, accident investigators in orange vests and a police helicopter overhead," he said.

There was no sign of passengers or the driver of the train. A police spokeswoman said the dead person was the sole occupant of the car.

Bus services are replacing commuter trains between Cranbourne and Dandenong stations.

Ambulance Victoria operational group manager Andrew Watson said it was "very sad scene'' with "quite a bit'' of debris.

"It appears the incident has occurred on the level crossing and a small passenger vehicle has been (involved),'' Mr Watson said.

"The train struck the car and it has been dragged along the railway tracks significantly, about 250 to 300 metres. Unfortunately the driver of the vehicle has died, it appears to have been instantly.''

Mr Watson says all the passengers were assessed by paramedics for injuries and symptoms of shock.

"Obviously, the train driver was very upset and traumatised by the event and he is receiving the appropriate counselling and support now,'' Mr Watson said.

Paramedic Andrew Watson told 3AW the scene was horrific.

"The small vehicle has been dragged about 250 metres down the railway line," he said.

Ambulance Victoria spokesman Paul Bentley said about 30 passengers were assessed at the scene but no one was injured.

Connex spokesman John Reese said there would be a full investigation into the incident.

Victoria recorded the most rail deaths in Australia for the first six months of this year, according to the Australian Transport Bureau of Safety.

The data, released last month, showed the state had 11 fatalities on train tracks, eight more than NSW and Queensland, which had the next-highest.

It also showed the number of serious injuries in Victoria dwarfed that of other states, with 474 to Queensland's 123.

Public Transport Safety Victoria recorded 19 fatalities on the state's rails last year.

Victoria has 1872 level crossings, most in rural areas, the highest number of crossing fatalities of any state and the most near misses between cars and trains.

In June 2007, 11 people died when a truck slammed into a passenger train at a level crossing near Kerang.

In the wake of the Kerang crash, the State Government made safety changes, including "rumble strips" for 200 crossings, automated advance warning signs and lower speed limits on major roads.

According to Australia's biggest transport infrastructure firm, Asciano, there were 20 collisions on level crossings in the 2006-2007 financial year, half of them in Victoria. Of the 262 recorded "near misses" 107, or 41%, happened in Victoria.

Across Australia, an average of 37 people have been killed at level crossings each year over the past decade.

Level crossing deaths since Kerang

August 24, 2007 Truck driver, 57, near Somerville.
January 28, 2008 Woman, 32, at Tyabb
February 1, 2008 Woman, 48, near Bendigo, on same line as Kerang crash.
February 26, 2008 Man, 32 in Mitiamo.
March 24, 2008 Woman, 38, and daughter, 14, at Modewarre.
"How long will the next train be? Six cars would be my guess."

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Vic, Commuter train kills driver in level crossing smash. - by Chicken Fish - 18-Nov-2008, 09:19 AM

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