Police despair as warnings ignored

MOTORISTS continue to risk their lives at a rail crossing that only last month saw a car crushed by a train, say police.

A senior officer said he was shocked when a P-plater ignored red flashing lights and the sound of the train’s horn to cross the tracks on Old Barnawartha Road last week.

Wodonga Acting Sgt Brian Tyler was with emergency crews at the scene of another accident at the nearby intersection of McKoy Street and the Hume Freeway when he watched the utility cross in front of the oncoming train.

Two days later he parked at the same spot at the same time.

“Sure enough along he came, this time after the train had been through,” Sgt Tylor said.

“I pulled him over and he admitted that he had been the driver on Tuesday.

“He saw the lights, heard the train and still crossed — he couldn’t really explain why.”

Last month a woman was trapped for almost two hours after being hit by the midday V/Line train at the same crossing.

But Sgt Tyler said that accident, repeated warnings and harsher penalties had failed to deter the foolhardy.

“Under new laws we can impound the car for 30 days if a car crosses on the lights or in view of a train but we have a 48-hour window to do that and fortunately for him he was outside of that by a few minutes,” he said.

“So it was a $704 fine and four points.

“I don’t know how we get the message through to these people — I asked him whether he remembered the train hitting the car in that same spot a month ago, he said ‘of course I did’.

“He had just gone through a car accident on the freeway and then does that — all he could say was that he was stupid.”

Sgt Tyler said the crossing and freeway intersection were a dangerous mix for drivers.

“Anywhere that there is a double crossing of two lanes of traffic travelling at 110km/h is a concern but throw into that the rail crossing only 50 metres away and then you are asking for trouble,” he said.

“I’m sure there are road engineers who have looked long and hard at this but in my opinion there needs to be more signage.”

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