Queensland Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson
Tougher Penalties At Rail Crossings
Victor P Taffa
The Newman Government today announced the creation of a new offence, doubling the existing penalty for motorists who cause major disruptions to the rail network.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said careless drivers who ignore rail crossing signals and damage boom gates or bridges would face a maximum penalty of $8,800.
Mr. Emerson said as well as double the maximum penalty a guilty motorist would also have to pay for repairs to any damage caused by their actions and could lose their licence because of dangerous or reckless driving.
“I’m fed up with careless drivers who are causing havoc for thousands of public transport commuters and damaging hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of infrastructure because they can’t be bothered to obey the signs and signals.” Mr. Emerson said.
“In the past twelve months there were 194 boom gate strikes more than one every two days.”
“This year alone almost 180,000 commuters have been stranded getting to or from work when services have been delayed or cancelled because of rail crossing incidents.” Mr. Emerson said.
“The current penalty of $4,400 is obviously not deterring drivers running the red signals and shutting down large parts of the network, so it will be doubled.”
“There are often costs of almost $10,000 to repair damaged equipment and signalling and we will also push for full cost recovery from individuals and companies that cause this damage.”
Mr. Emerson said the tougher penalties are aimed at reducing rail crossing outages following a spate of incidents this month.
“Even before these latest incidents we had increased awareness of the issue with a hard-hitting Queensland Rail campaign, Crosses. Launched earlier this year it encourages people to obey the signals at rail crossings and not gamble with their lives.” Mr. Emerson said.
“The Newman Government is also investing $1 Million to introduce new technology to make rail crossings safer.”
“We’re trialling radio break-in systems that warn vehicles to stop as they approach level crossings, and solar powered lighting/signage systems that would not be affected by electricity outages.”
“We will also deliver this term, in partnership with the Brisbane City Council, road overpasses at Telegraph Road Bracken Ridge and Robinson Road Geebung, the two rail crossings identified by the RACQ as the most dangerous in Brisbane.”
“These disruptions to our public transport system caused by motorists have to stop.” Mr. Emerson said.
The new offence will be introduced next month.
BACKGROUND – MONTH OF HELL FOR COMMUTERS
- Friday, 12 October: vehicle hit the boom gate at a level crossing at Shorncliffe, causing delays for City network customers.
- Thursday, 11 October: truck driver hit the boom gate at Bilsen Road level crossing at Sunshine, bringing down the overhead wires and causing substantial delays to afternoon and following morning peak services.
- Wednesday, 10 October: vehicle hit the boom gate at the Station Road level crossing at Bethania, on the Beenleigh/Gold Coast line. The impact resulted in the boom arm coming into contact with the overhead wires, causing delays of up to an hour.
- Monday, 8 October: vehicle struck a boom gate at the Dawson Parade level crossing on the Ferny Grove line, again causing delays for City network customers.
- Thursday, 4 October: vehicle hit the boom gate at the Caloundra Road level crossing, just south of Landsborough station. The impact snapped the boom arm in two and caused delays for both City network and long distance travel customers.
- Thursday, 4 October: overhead wires were tripped at Boundary Road, Coopers Plains, resulting in the boom gates remaining down and disrupting road and rail commuters. We believe overhead wires at the level crossing were struck by an over-sized truck.
- Tuesday, 2 October: motor vehicle crashed into the boom gates at the Station Road level crossing, Bethania on the Beenleigh/Gold Coast line, and the broken boom gate tripped the overhead power supply for trains.