Crossing had “stop” signs but fault is found with KiwiRail in the aftermath of another accident

You can ignore the information ... but don't blame KiwiRail if you come off second best in an encounter with a train.

Perhaps it comes from living in the shadow of Mt Egmont.

Whatever the reason, the buggers in that neck of the woods have a somewhat exaggerated notion of “black spot”.

Or – another strong possibility – the feverish Fairfax scribes have engaged in a beat-up in saying that a woman was killed yesterday at a notorious railway crossing that Stratford residents have been imploring authorities to fix for nearly 20 years.

Yesterday’s fatal crash at Stratford’s black spot – the Flint Rd railway crossing – was a grim reminder that nothing has changed since the last fatality there in 1992.

What was that again?

Oh, yes. The previous fatality on this “black spot” was way, way back in 1992.

True, the crossing has been the scene of five previous crashes, according to the report at Scoop.

It does not have flashing lights, bells or barrier arms to alert drivers to trains.

But Alf draws attention to the fact there are stop signs on either side of the tracks.

So you are driving down a road and come to a stop sign.

The smart thing to do is – what, exactly?

Oh, yes. Stop,

Sure, it was a nasty accident with disastrous consequences.

The ute had turned off Broadway into Flint Rd when it was hit by a fully-laden general freight train, travelling north from Stratford to New Plymouth.

The crash threw the ute 15-20 metres from the point of impact where it landed in a ditch on its roof. The freight train, consisting of two locomotives and nine wagons, continued on for another 300 metres before coming to a stop.

But Alf notes that motorists in Taranaki don’t bother to heed a simple bit of advice to stop and see what’s coming down the tracks.

Flint Rd resident Des Rowe said the crossing was an accident waiting to happen: “I have just been waiting for this to happen, half of the cars don’t even stop (at the crossing).”

Yet the heat is being turned up on Kiwi Rail, now that a ute has come off second best in an encounter with a train.

A spokesperson for the rail company, Cathie Bell, has good advice for the motorists of Stratford and its surrounds.

Warning systems are important, but people shouldn’t think that putting in flashing lights and bells at the crossing will remove all the danger.

“These warning systems are really important but the most important thing is for people to approach every rail line as very dangerous.

“They need to really make sure lines are clear before they cross,” Ms Bell said.

“If there is something on the track, the driver can’t avoid it.”

Can ‘t say fairer than that.

Taranaki folk probably won’t be mollified by learning the Flint Rd rail crossing is high on Kiwi Rail’s priority list for flashing lights. The aim – says Bell – is to get it done within two years.

When it is finally upgraded, the Flint Rd crossing will get bells and flashing lights but no barrier arms.

No matter. In parts of the country where barrier arms are being lowered when trains approach, a bemused Alf has often observed motorists speed up to get through before the arms have finished their descent.

They are obvious contenders for a Darwin award.

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