Train near-miss captured on video

An empty freight train nearly collided with a ute that failed to stop at a level crossing in Victoria's north in a hair-raising incident that was captured on film.

The video shot by driver Adam Hollins shows the empty grain train approaching the Woorinen level crossing north of Swan Hill on Wednesday last week.

The footage then shows the driver sounding his horn loudly as he nears the crossing, where a white ute speeds through the crossing inches away from the train.

The incident occurred at a "passive" level crossing, meaning there are no flashing lights or gates to warn drivers of oncoming trains, but there were warning signs in place directing motorists to ‘Give Way’ and ‘Look for trains’.

A V/Line spokeswoman said freight trains operate through the area infrequently, with only a few services operating along the line to date this year.

However, motorists should remain alert and always check for trains before entering any passive crossing, day or night, she said.

“This worrying near miss is a reminder to the community that freight trains operate on changing schedules throughout the day and night, and care should always be taken when approaching and crossing rail tracks.”

The near-miss, posted on YouTube channel Aussietraindriver 2020, is the latest in a string of worrying close calls on the rail network.

It comes just a few weeks after the national transport safety watchdog launched a probe into a dangerous incident in which another freight train nearly collided with cars passing through the Cherry Street crossing in Werribee on December 4.

The train crew noticed a level crossing malfunction and the driver applied the emergency brakes, bringing the 1400-metre-long freight train to a stop at the crossing moments after a number of cars had passed through.

The train was travelling at approximately 40km/h and there was no collision or injuries.

In May, an out-of-control V/Line train narrowly missed three pedestrians in a crash that might have been fatal if the train's normal Saturday night football crowd had been on board.

The Wendouree-bound V/Line train had a train driver, conductor and two passengers on board when it was unable to stop at Ballarat Station and ploughed through level crossing gates at high speed on the evening of May 30.

A preliminary Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation uncovered CCTV footage that captured three pedestrians at Lydiard Street walking across the tracks 49 seconds before the V/Line train passed through.

After the Ballarat train – which is normally full of people returning from AFL games, but was largely empty because of coronavirus restrictions – left Ballan, the wheels kept sliding when the driver tried to brake.

In February this year, two people died when the XPT Sydney-Melbourne passenger train travelling at more than six times the speed limit derailed as it entered a loop track at Wallan in Melbourne's north.

The incident that killed train driver John Kennedy and the train’s pilot, Sam Meintanis, involved the train travelling at more than  100km/h on the main line when it entered a passing loop in Wallan that had a 15km/h speed limit, the rail safety watchdog found in a preliminary report.

Many trains drivers complained to V/Line in the lead-up to the fatal crash about a lack of safety protocols between Donnybrook and Kilmore East, where signals were down.

Drivers claimed they were told by NSW train controllers to drive at normal speed and not the reduced 25km/h after a fire at a signal hut in early February.

By the time the crash occurred, the signal lights were black, indicating they were out of operation.

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