Courier Mail, The (Brisbane), 15/05/2004, pg. 7

ROUGH bitumen and faulty level crossing lights have been blamed for a collision between a B-double road train and a freight train which almost claimed the life of a truck driver at Goondiwindi in southwest Queensland yesterday.

A locomotive hit the front trailer of the B-double just behind the prime mover as the truck crossed a level crossing at the intersection of the Cunningham Highway and Cemetery Rd at 11.05am.

Gunnedah truck driver George Myer, 54, escaped with a cut forehead, his employer Lex Gordon, of Gordon Roadways at Narrabri, said.

Mr Gordon said Mr Evans told him he had been going slowly and watching the road but the train warning lights had not appeared to be on in the town.

The force of the collision overturned the truck’s two trailers, spilling 50 tonnes of grain and derailed the front locomotive, spinning it off the track where it came to rest facing the opposite direction.

Couplings between the front locomotive and a second engine broke, sending the second locomotive off the opposite side of the track and derailing the next two freight wagons.

Goondiwindi trucking contractor Robin Rabbitt, who saw the accident, said the impact sent a cloud of grain up even though the truck and train were both travelling slowly when they collided.

“The road is as rough as guts across that crossing. Everyone knows it’s rough and goes slowly,” he said.

Mr Rabbitt said the crossing was dangerous because lights at the crossing were dull and had no hood over the top, the bitumen on the crossing was very rough and a large tree blocked the view of oncoming trains from the road.

“I’m in front of the lights at the crossing and you can hardly see the bastards shining,” he said. “If you had a dirty windscreen you wouldn’t see them.

“The lights are very bloody dull. Even with your head out the window they’re dull.”

Mr Rabbitt alerted the fire brigade and police and ran across to see if anyone in the train needed help.

“I ran to the truck and the guys were out walking around. They didn’t know what had happened. They were dazed,” he said.

Mr Rabbitt said if the truck had been a moment slower, the train would have hit the prime mover and killed the driver.

Ambulance crews took the truck driver, train driver and a train supervisor to Goondiwindi hospital with suspected internal injuries.
All three were in a stable condition.

Goondiwindi’s volunteer firefighters were called to the scene by the town’s World War II air raid siren attached to the town water tower. They cleaned up 2000 litres of diesel which had spilled.

Traffic was diverted through Goondiwindi for several hours until the highway was cleared.

A Queensland Rail spokesman said the train was leaving Goondiwindi for Brisbane when the accident happened.

Copyright 2004 / Courier Mail