The Aurizon train which hit a truck on a rail crossing at Pindi Pindi.
The Aurizon train which hit a truck on a rail crossing at Pindi Pindi. Jonathan Reichard

Train couldn't stop in time to avoid devastating crash

THE truck driver who was killed in a devastating crash with a freight train north of Calen most likely didn't see the locomotive coming because of the way his truck was designed and the angle in which he had stopped, a government investigation has found.

Calen man Robert Reid, 66, sustained fatal injuries when the truck he was driving was struck by an Aurizon freight train as he crossed the Wintons Rd level crossing about 9.45am on August 29 last year.

The Australian Transport and Safety Bureau final report into the incident, released this week, found Mr Reid's ability to spot the oncoming train was "probably restricted due to the truck's cab design and the likelihood that the vehicle stopped at an angle to the railway track".

"Once the truck proceeded into the path of the train, there was insufficient time for the train driver to stop the train before colliding with the truck," the report stated.

According to the ATSB, road vehicles had been cutting the corner when entering the private road, widening the junction at Wagoora-Yalboroo Rd over time.

Investigators found this could have influenced how vehicles stopped at the crossing, consequently affecting the ability for drivers of some larger vehicles to spot oncoming trains.

Investigators concluded it was unlikely sun-glare or fatigue played a part in the crash. There was nothing to indicate Mr Reid's attention had been diverted by physical distractions in any way.

There was no evidence of alcohol or drugs in his blood or urine, and no evidence of it being related to a medical episode. It was noted that Mr Reid may have had a moment of "inattentional blindness", a phenomenon when a person fails to see something they are looking directly at.

"It is possible that the driver looked towards the approaching train but did not see or perceive its approach," the report stated.

Once Mr Reid moved forward onto the crossing, a collision was "inevitable" because the train was so close.

The train operator sounded the horn once when she spotted the truck stop at the crossing, and sounded a second sustained horn when the truck came onto the tracks. She then placed the brake handle into the emergency position before moving to the foot-well for protection.

The train tore through the cab of the truck before coming to a stop a few hundred metres later. The operator was treated for shock at the scene but was otherwise unhurt.