Bendigo-Swan Hill line one of worst for near misses

Take care: The Napier Street railway crossing in Bendigo is one of the worst hotspots for near misses on the Bendigo-Swan Hill line. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

Take care: The Napier Street railway crossing in Bendigo is one of the worst hotspots for near misses on the Bendigo-Swan Hill line. Picture: JODIE DONNELLAN

This week's Rail Safety Week campaign motto "Don't push your X-ing luck" is a message most pedestrians and motorists between Bendigo and Swan Hill would do well to heed.

That's because the Bendigo-Swan Hill rail line has the dubious honour of having one of the highest rates of incidents at railway crossings in country Victoria, according to Transport Safety Victoria.

The findings, released on Wednesday, show there have been a total of 37 hits or near hits between V/Line trains and either cars driving or people walking across level crossing tracks on the Bendigo-Swan Hill line in the past five years.

Of those, the crossings at Napier Street in Bendigo and Bendigo-Pyramid Road in Mitiamo had some of the highest incident rates on the line. 

A V/Line spokesperson said 30 of the incidents in the period had involved cars and had occurred across a total of 25 locations along the line.

Two of those incidents resulted in fatalities, one in Dingee in 2008 and the other in Mitiamo the same year, the spokesperson said.

There were also seven pedestrian incidents across five locations on the line in the same period, but no fatalities.

V/Line chief executive Theo Taifalos said he was concerned with the number of people risking their safety on the Bendigo-Swan Hill line.

"There are only 25 vehicle and five pedestrian level crossings between Bendigo and Swan Hill so 37 incidents is far too high," he said. 

"About 40 per cent of these incidents occurred at active crossings; those with boom barriers and bells or flashing lights.

"This suggests that crossing users are ignoring the safety systems in place and endangering not only their lives, but those of others."

In contrast to the Bendigo to Swan Hill stretch of the line, there were no near misses on the Melbourne to Bendigo part of the line for the same period, the V/Line spokesperson said.

Victorian Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder used his Rail Safety Week launch on Wednesday to emphasise the importance of "thinking before you cross".

"In 2013-14 a total of 43 level crossing near misses occurred in country Victoria that could have been avoided if drivers and pedestrians had thought before they crossed railway lines."

Twenty-five people have died and 95 serious injuries have occurred at country Victoria level crossings since 2005.

There have also been 528 near misses or near hits during this nine year period.

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