Last week a lady was tragically killed on the level crossing at Bentleigh station, when she walked in front of an express train.
I’d never do it, but unfortunately far too often people do take the risk. It’s not difficult — despite the upgrade, if you approach the crossing from the right hand footpath, you can dodge the locked gate by simply walking around the fencing along the road.
Four people have been killed there in recent years: in 1998, 2000, 2004 and last week. All four have walked into the paths of express trains during morning peak, though until the most recent one, I believe it has involved pushing through the pedestrian gates. These gates were upgraded, and now lock.
Since the upgrade, the warning signals at the crossing are plentiful: apart from the usual boom gates, pedestrian gates, bells, and flashing lights, the crossing also has a red man indicator, and “Another train coming” sign that lights up when appropriate.
One can blame the people involved for ignoring all this, but no matter who’s to blame, one has to look at what else can be done to prevent it happening again.
A boom gate on the right hand side of the road? Not normally done in Victoria — my understanding is they want an escape route for any cars that might (incorrectly, and illegally) find themselves stopped on the crossing when the booms go down.
It’s notable that all those deaths have been since the pedestrian underpass was filled-in in 1996. Following the 2004 death, reinstating this was looked at. From the Herald Sun 8/9/2005 Tunnel a no-go zone:
BENTLEIGH railway station’s pedestrian underpass will not reopen despite a
report that found it was technically possible.
Transport Minister Peter Batchelor said reopening the old underpass was not feasible. “It was closed because of some deficiencies in its design, because it had problems with flooding when it rained and it had other operational issues,” he said.
But a consultant’s report prepared for the State Government found those problems could be fixed.
The estimated cost of reopening the subway was up to $2 million.
But Mr Batchelor said the underpass could not meet requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.
Instead, an enhanced ground-level crossing would be installed.
Those enhancements ended up costing $1.2 million. And it appears they still haven’t solved the problem, since people still walk across the tracks when they shouldn’t.
I love the DDA point from Batchelor. Does the underpass which is okay for (perhaps) 90% of people need to be DDA-compliant if those who can’t cope with stairs can still cross at most times at street level?
Many crossings have both over/underpasses and street-level crossing, for instance at Mckinnon (pictured above), Ormond, Brighton Beach, Ripponlea, and others. Some have ramps as well as steps (though the ramps aren’t necessarily DDA-complaint).
It would be interesting to know how often these kinds of accidents occur at locations with conveniently-placed crossing facilities.
Short of complete grade separation of the rail line at Bentleigh, it would seem to make sense for them to look at re-instating the underpass.
- 15/3/2013: Buses have been ordered to replace trains on the Frankston line between Caulfield and Moorabbin stations after a person was hit by a train near Bentleigh just after 7am. Major delays are expected. — Fairfax report
- 1/4/2014: A man has been hit by a train and killed while trying to cross the tracks near Bentleigh railway station on Tuesday night. Police appealed for witnesses to the incident, which happened about 7.15pm. — Age report
- Also: someone created an interactive timeline