New limit at crash crossing

THE road speed limit at the crossing where a car hit a V/Line passenger train last month will be reduced.

Christine Griffin and passenger Scott Colee had an amazing escape when the train slammed into their car at the Old Barnawartha Road crossing on October 8.

New signs will be installed in the lead-up to the crossing — next to the Hume Freeway — cutting the speed from 100km/h to 80km/h.

VicRoads north-eastern region director Graham Freestone said the site, also known as the Cochranes Road crossing, was the only one in the Wodonga area to be altered in his organisation’s statewide program.

He did not know how long it would be before the signs were sent to Wodonga Council.

“The crossings in the program will be on local roads that are sealed and now have a speed limit of 100km/h,” Mr Freestone said.

“VicRoads, VicTrack, V/Line and the Australian Rail Track Corporation are reviewing the list of locations to ensure consistency — it has not yet been finalised.”

Mr Freestone said more than 170 crossings would be affected by the program.

Ms Griffin, 26, suffered serious leg and pelvic injuries when her car hit the Albury-bound train about 11.30am.

The train dragged her car for about 500 metres and left her trapped inside the car. Mr Colee walked away from the crash.

He was later treated at hospital for a hematoma in his leg.

Police investigations revealed Ms Griffin might not have seen the train because she was talking to Mr Colee as she approached the crossing.

In 2009, safety fears were behind plans to shut the crossing.

That was overturned last year after complaints to Wodonga Council.

Council engineering manager Leon Schultz said at the time all level crossings posed a risk and the Old Barnawartha Road crossing did not have any unique dangers.

In 2008, the state government reduced the speed limit at level crossings on all high-speed roads under VicRoads control to 80km/h, but it did not cover local government roads.

“Local government will now receive funding to reduce the speed limit on sealed local roads that have a speed limit of 100km/h or 110km/h so they will match the arterial road network,” Roads Minister Terry Mulder said.