In the wake of Saturday’s tragic train accident, perhaps it’s understandable that people feel a little nervous.
They shouldn’t feel nervous. Even one death is too many, and more needs to be done, but the fact is that Melbourne’s trains have an enviable safety record.
Even with Melbourne’s 170+ level crossings, as far as I can see (according to Wikipedia, which may or may not be correct) it’s been more than
80 60 years since the last passenger death due to an accident on the suburban system — that was in Caulfield in 1926 near Frankston in 1946 (see comments).
It’s true that regional (V/Line) trains don’t have as good a record, thanks to accidents such as the Kerang level crossing disaster in 2007. The issue here is that the regional network has many crossings with lesser levels of protection (eg crossings with no boom gates) than in suburban areas. It would appear the last fatality caused by the railway itself (rather than a motor vehicle, as at Kerang) was in 1976 at Laverton.
Unfortunately of course, deaths on the road system are a daily event.
(The bigger safety concern on trains is that of personal safety, but that’s a subject for another day.)
The bottom line — and the statistics back this up — is that you are much, much, much more safe in a train than on the road.
Which is little comfort to those involved in Saturday’s accident of course.
- The ALCAM level crossing priority list from 2008, which put the Abbotts Road crossing at number 144 — the number 1 ranked crossing has been grade-separated, as has number 46, so I guess that makes Abbotts Road now number 142.