THE Ballarat train line experiences one of the highest rates of safety incidents in Victoria.
Research by Transport Safety Victoria reveals there have been 34 hits or near hits between V/Line trains and either motor vehicles or pedestrians on the Ballarat line in the past five years.
The statistics come as V/Line and Victoria Police join forces to promote Rail Safety Week.
V/Line chief executive Theo Taifalos said he couldn’t contemplate why people risked their lives near railways.
“There are only 11 vehicle and five pedestrian level crossings between Sunshine and Ballarat, so 34 incidents is far too high,” Mr Taifalos 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.
“Even a near hit can have distressing and enduring effects on our drivers.”
A man was taken to Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital with injuries when his car and a V/Line train collided on the Gillies Street level crossing on June 12 this year.
Police say the Ford Festiva he was travelling in veered onto the wrong side of the road to avoid the lowered boom gates at the level crossing between Howitt and Gregory streets.
Ballarat Police Inspector Bruce Thomas said Victoria Police was sending a strong message to ensure people obeyed the rules around level crossings.
“Each day police encounter motorists and pedestrians taking risks around railway tracks and level crossings as trains approach,” Inspector Thomas said.
“When people walk along train tracks, or cross against the signals, they are taking a huge risk – one that too often ends in tragedy.
“Break the law at a railway line and you can risk being fined up to $738.”
A Sprinter train travelling at 130km/h takes 880 metres to stop. A VLocity train travelling at 160km/h takes 975 metres to stop.