Train crashes into car in Nanaimo: Another example of a car driver ignoring the dangers of a railway level crossings

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1 tram crossing

Here we have another sad example of a motorist ignoring railway signals and driving into the path of a passenger train, with tragic results. Rail For The Valley must deal with two issues before the reinstatement of the interurban.

1) Before any interurban or streetcar service is to begin in BC, a complete review and updating of the motor vehicles act must take place. When the act was written, taking streetcars (and interurban) into account, motorists in BC drove on the left hand side of the road! This was done in the UK, before the Manchester LRT scheme was built and in France, before there was major investment in new tramway’s. It has also been attempted in the USA, but with poorer results ans the anti-LRT lobby has used motor vehicle rules change as the last bastion of defense for their ant-LRT tirades.

2) RFV should advise government that any motorist who ignores a railway signaling device at a level crossing should be given a six month driving ban and any motorist who ignores a railway level crossing signaling device and causes an accident or death, should be given a 10 year driving ban. All interurban signaled controlled level crossings are to be CCTV monitored.

Modern light-rail is one of the safest public transit modes in the world, yet where LRT interfaces with auto traffic, accidents will and do happen and it is best the auto drivers know the law and be compelled to adhere to the law.

The SkyTrain lobby should do well to remember this as well, the annual death rate on SkyTrain is three times higher than the annual death rate on Calgary’s LRT, but that is another story.

Train crashes into car in Nanaimo

A man and woman in their 40s are dead

John Streit NANAIMO (NEWS1130) | Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 8:00 pm

NANAIMO (NEWS1130) – Two people are dead after a passenger train slammed into a car at a railway crossing in Nanaimo. It happened around three this afternoon, an older model car travelling on the Island Highway was turning right when it was hit by the Southern Railway of Vancouver Island dayliner.

There were three people in the car at the time – a man and woman in their 40s are dead, a passenger in her 20s was hurt and taken to hospital with unknown injuries. None of the passengers on the train were hurt. Mounties were told the lights and bells on the train crossing were working at the time.

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6 Responses to “Train crashes into car in Nanaimo: Another example of a car driver ignoring the dangers of a railway level crossings”

  1. mezzanine Says:

    What’s your source of Skytrain deaths being higher than C-train deaths?

    Suicides are one aspect to this. Things like homeless people wandering into the path of a transit vehicle in calgary are avoided by grade separation.

    http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/dies+after+being+Train/1898219/story.html

    A bigger issue from an operational aspect are the multiple minor accidents that occur to at-grade surface LRT. Things that don’t create deaths, but delay service on the line in Calgary.

    http://paleking.blogspot.com/2006/10/due-to-accident-our-downtown-core-is.html

    Zweisystem replies: it is common knowledge that death rate on SkyTrain are much higher than on Calgary’s C-Train LRT and the numbers come from news reports and from Calgary transit. TransLink, seldom if ever report suicides, but the news term “medical emergency” indicates that this has happened. One transit official in the US, once told Zweisystem that some unfortunate incidents on a LRT system in the USA were deemed suicide, but because the unfortunate soul was in a car and crashed through a barrier to hit a tram, it was classified as an accident.

    Grade separation has little to do with deaths on a transit system and certainly this debate only appears in Vancouver. No matter how the SkyTrain lobby tries to spin a story they fail to answer one very important question: if SkyTrain is so much better than LRT why, after 30 years of being on the market, only seven such systems have been built compared to now over 200 new LRT lines built, under construction or in advanced stages of planning? Answer that and I may take the SkyTrain lobby more seriously.

  2. mezzanine Says:

    This debate is also appearing in Honolulu, where they are considering an elevated automated metro.

    From an op/ed piece from the CEO of Phoenix’s LRT system:

    “Finally, an elevated rail line will also be safer for rail passengers, motorists and pedestrians. The Phoenix surface rail line has averaged five collisions per month since opening last December, resulting in personal injuries, costly damage to trains and vehicles, and service delays to passengers.

    In contrast, the elevated, automated SkyTrain system in Vancouver, British Columbia, has operated for 23 years without a single accident.

    I urge Honolulu to keep moving forward with your elevated rail system. You only have one opportunity to get it right.

    In my opinion, you are making the right choice and your community will reap rewards for years to come.”

    http://www.starbulletin.com/editorials/20091001_Oahu_will_benefit_from_rail_but_make_sure_its_elevated.html

    Why is automated metro not used as often as LRT? i don’t know. that being said, not every corridor is right for metro. I would think that Skytrain fits in with other post-war metro systems built at the same time, like BART and DC Metro for denser, older metropolitan areas.

    Zweisystem replies: The Honolulu debate has been going on for years, yet it seems that at-grade transit systems are safer in terms of lives lost. The CEO of Phoenix’s LRT knows very well that if the light rail were to be grade separated, it would not have been built! I wonder why he isn’t CEO any more?

    Grade separate a transit system and it leaves taxpayers reeling from from high taxes and the transit system with high fares.

    You can’t compare the Mickey Mouse SkyTrain with BART or the DC metro; SkyTrain was an attempt to build a cheap metro, it failed!

  3. David Says:

    It’s unfortunate that people lost their lives, but it would appear that in this case the driver failed to heed a functioning crossing signal.

    If I tried to cross Knight Street against the red I would be unlikely to survive that either.

    When I was a kid growing up in Vancouver there were lots of trains. The north shore of False Creek was still industrial and CP had a huge rail yard there. Trains plied the Arbutus corridor, shunted back and forth across Main street near 1st Ave and frequently blocked Prior St. on their way to or from the port. Drivers back then were more aware of trains and their sheer size, but there were idiots who dashed across red signals even then. It seems that stupidity and driving have gone together since the days of the horse and cart.

    Zweisystem replies: There has been at least 5 fatal car accidents on the island in the past two months and I think this is the first fatality on the E & N in a couple of years. The train was traveling at only 40 kph, when it it the vehicle, so it seems on the face of it, the driver tried, at an extremely close margin, to beat the train!

  4. John Says:

    Don’t forget the fact that LRT

    1) creates a modal switch away from the automobile ie. attracts people who otherwise would drive
    2) acts as active traffic-calming, as opposed to Skytrain.

    I suspect the in-direct effects due to these points result in a drastic reduction in fatalities, but they are never considered part of the equation!

  5. julie Says:

    in the article it says man and woman in their 40’s and a twenty year old girl were in the car at the time of the crash, it was the couples 14 year old son.

    Zweisystem replies: I included this article mainly to get the point across that if the valley interurban is to operate (indeed any LRT in the region) we must update the motor vehicles act, as done elsewhere, to take into account modern light rail.

  6. Jim Says:

    Quite often when I stop at a stop sign for a rail crossing, the car behind me will go around and run the sign in the wrong lane with no possibility to see if there is a train coming. It is hard to feel sorry for people who do it to themselves. I don’t know about this case though. It is sad, but some people ask for it.

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