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Level crossing in fatal crash found unsafe

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/06/2016

A report has identified safety problems with a Waikato level crossing where a truck driver died when hit by a train.

The truck was hit by the Northern Explorer travelling to Wellington, on Te Onetea Road near Rangiriri on February 27, 2014.

The 108 train passengers were left shaken but not injured.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has now identified safety issues with the crossing, which had passive controls protected by `Stop' and `Look for trains' signs, but no barrier arms.

Truck driver Cory James Clements, 28, approached the crossing at the same time as the train was coming into view, but entered it without stopping.

The trailer unit became stuck on the rise leading to the rail tracks, while its cab blocked the tracks.

The train driver sounded his locomotive whistle and applied emergency braking, but collided with the truck at 78km/h, killing Mr Clements.

The commission said the train, which had lights on, would have been visible to the truck driver as he reached the level crossing.

It was likely he did not check for trains, which could have prevented the accident.

However, there were two broader safety issues with the crossing that could have contributed to the accident, the commission said.

The view lines from the stop limit line on the road did not comply with minimum sighting distances.

A train could be just out of a truck driver's view, who would not have sufficient time to pass over the crossing without being struck.

The second safety issue was no requirements to check whether all vehicles could pass over level crossings without becoming stuck.

The commission has made recommendations to NZTA to address the problems.

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