Failure of railway crossing regulations caused train crash
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A New Zealand railway crossing north of Wellington where a bus was hit by a freight train last year failed to comply with regulations, a transport investigation has found.
Six passengers and the driver got out of harm's way only moments before the train smashed into the "super-low-floor" bus after it became stuck on the track on Beach Rd in Paekakariki on October 31.
The crossing and a short section of road leading up to the intersection was not compatible with long and low road vehicles as required by NZ Transport Agency rules, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission has found.
The bus became stuck on two of the three sets of tracks and could not be freed by the driver who tried several methods, said the report.
There was also not enough "stacking distance" for the bus, or other vehicles longer than 10 meters to stop at the intersection and remain clear of the clear of the tracks, the commission found.
Another 251 crossings have similar stacking distance issues.
The report has made a number of recommendations about the layout, profile and stacking distance issues at the Beach Rd crossing and others around the country as a result of the investigation to improve safety.
It also said drivers of large road vehicles should should carry the National Train Control Centre emergency telephone number so they can alert the train controller in any similar situation.
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The New Zealand Transport Agency and the rail operator appear not to be on the same planet as drivers of commercial vehicles.
There is a law requiring drivers of buses, and trucks carrying dangerous goods, to stop before crossing tracks that do not have alarms and barrier arms, but at most crossings that is impractical and dangerous.
At many crossings, once a large vehicle is stopped the driver is unable to get a clear view of the tracks. With many crossings a driver can have a good view while approaching but can be blind once stopped because of crossing angles and obstructions.
The law for trucks and buses at railway crossings should be the same as for cars.