It’s Rail Safety Week, an annual event to highlight the importance of staying safe around trains. It’s an important issue, and the official video is well worth a look:
Back in 2012, The Age highlighted the issue of level crossing regulations which are illogical, and out of step with engineering practice as well as public perception.
Basically, many level crossings adjacent to stations with island platforms have independently operating pedestrian gates. The gates only close if a train is approaching on that track. The regulations say that it is illegal to cross through an open gate. The signage is similarly anachronistic.
So this is perfectly safe, but technically illegal:
For Rail Safety Week, there is been an increased police presence at numerous level crossings. On Wednesday morning at Bentleigh, two police were watching pedestrians cross. Thankfully in line with common sense, they did not book people for crossing through an open pedestrian gate when another road boom gates were closed.
But as the 2012 Age article noted, some people have been fined for it in the past.
The law still needs reform. Obviously it should continue to be illegal for dangerous acts, but it shouldn’t be illegal to cross in a safe manner.
And in fact the government just did a review of precisely these regulations: the Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) (Conduct on Public Transport) Regulations. The revised regulations took effect in June.
The PTUA and other organisations submitted comments to the review — you can read a summary of the comments and responses from the department here. The PTUA specifically suggested this regulation be modified…
From the response, it appears they now understand there’s a problem, but are still trying to figure out how to change the regulations.
Even recognising the issue is progress. I guess the wheels of government move slowly.
- Apparently until now it has been technically illegal to exit a tram from the right hand side, despite numerous tram stops requiring you to do so
- The government is still trying to figure out what they think about eCigarettes. (They may not be as dangerous to others as regular cigarettes, but personally I don’t like them.)
- It’s now an offence to board the first door of the first carriage of a metropolitan train with a bicycle (regulation 11). As most would know, that space is for those with mobility aids — there’s increasing signage to reflect this.
- Crossing between tram platforms on a street, while common and nowhere near as unsafe as crossing between railway platforms, is still officially verboten — and incurs the same fine (20 penalty units) (regulation 22)
- There’s a bunch of rules that are quite specific about car parking in Designated park and ride facilities as part of a trial at these stations: Box Hill, Burwood, Camberwell, Heidelberg, Highett and Murrumbeena (Schedule 1)
- As part of this, it appears to be legal to use public transport car parking without using public transport as long as it’s outside the hours of 6am to 7pm (regulation 51). You can also park there at those times for up to an hour if you don’t leave the car park (regulation 52) — eg to wait to pick someone up.