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    Minister for Transport, Trade, Employment and Industrial Relations
    The Honourable John Mickel

    Criticism of safety assessments at rail level crossings ‘misguided’

    Minister for Transport, Trade, Employment and Industrial Relations
    The Honourable John Mickel

    Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    Criticism of safety assessments at rail level crossings ‘misguided’

    Transport Minister John Mickel has strongly rejected claims by the Liberal National Party Opposition that the system used to assess safety at railway level crossings is deficient.

    Mr Mickel said claims by the Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Main Roads and Transport Fiona Simpson were misguided and irresponsible.

    “Ms Simpson has sought to discredit the system currently being used to assess safety risks at railway level crossings.

    “Ms Simpson says in light of recent fatalities at level crossings the government’s support for the risk assessment system is dangerous.

    “She is saying, in effect, the recent fatalities prove that the system for assessing safety and risks at level crossings is at fault. This is simply untrue.

    “These claims from Ms Simpson demonstrate her complete lack of understanding of the system that is in place for addressing safety at level crossings.

    “Instead of attacking a method that is used nationally to assess safety risks at level crossings, Ms Simpson’s time would be better spent improving her grasp of the range of factors involved in level crossing safety.

    “For example, she might want to familiarise herself with the research which shows that the overwhelming number of level crossing accidents are caused by road driver behaviour, and how more than half of the accidents happen at crossings where there are boom gates or flashing lights.

    “For reasons best known to themselves, the Liberal National Party Opposition and Ms Simpson have failed to take up an offer to receive a comprehensive briefing from QR on rail safety issues.”

    Mr Mickel said QR evaluated risks at level crossings in accordance with a uniform national approach, involving an assessment model which had initially been developed in Queensland.

    “Under this process a review of level crossing characteristics such as topography and visibility takes place, which is then combined with the volume of road and rail traffic.

    “The assessed level of risk is then used to prioritise any work that needs to be done.

    “The approach developed by Queensland forms the basis of what is known as ALCAM – the Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model – which has now been accepted by all state Transport Ministers as the method to be used to evaluate railway level crossings across Australia.”

    Mr Mickel said that in addition to the existing $33 million long-term funding program for safety works at level crossings, QR had allocated an additional $10 million for a program of targeted priority works at crossings in north Queensland.

    “The works to be undertaken as part of these two programs will dovetail to ensure a consistent approach to safety measures at railway level crossings throughout the State,” he said.

    Mr Mickel said he expected the QR Task Force set up last month to assess which level crossings in north Queensland required priority safety works to finalise its recommendations by the end of the week.

    “We need a collective approach to further improve level crossing safety through driver education and enforcement as well as improving warnings and safety protection at level crossings,” Mr Mickel said.

    Media contact: 3237 1944