The Victorian Auditor-General is conducting an investigation into the “management of safety risks at level crossings”. Victoria’s Coroner is also investigating several, of the many, deaths at level crossings.
According to the Auditor-General’s website the level crossing report will be tabled in Parliament next month. It is understood that the three nominated level crossing hearings of the Victorian Coroner will commence sometime in 2010.
The government has only just completed a grade separation at a notorious level crossing at Nunawading at a cost of many millions of dollars. This project gained a priority from the Victorian government as not only did many people die in relation to the crossing, it was expected to have a huge positive effect on traffic flow, an issue currently close to the State government’s heart.
The Auditor-General’s website outlines the audit’s scope as below
“The audit will examine the adequacy of planning for managing safety risks at railway crossings, whether the prioritisation given to works is justified, and whether in the case of works conducted, the incidence and impact of railway crossing accidents has reduced.”
The assessment of planning and prioritisation will provide a useful guide for management of large infrastructure projects that lead to safety benefits. The audit report should also provide a cost analysis on whether the expenditure has had a demonstrable safety benefit.
This report and any finding of the Coroner on the issue, particularly if the Kerang level crossing incident is investigated, may create some difficult political questions for the Labor Government prior to the next election due in November 2010.