Coroner gives firm advice to KiwiRail

A coroner’s decision issued in Christchurch last week (26 October) has made firm recommendations to KiwiRail in response to the death of 22-year-old George Ellis in 2014.

Ellis died when the truck he was driving collided with a train at the Northpark Road crossing in Ashburton.  This crossing has known problems, including a death in 2003 and another accident in 2013.

Chapman Tripp partner Garth Gallaway acted for the family and said the findings are significant.

He was interviewed by Radio New Zealand here.

Part of the issues centre on the primary assessment tool for level crossings in New Zealand, the Australian Level Crossings Assessment Model (ALCAM), Gallaway said.

“The main thing, from my point of view, is that when ALCAM came into New Zealand, it was made very clear that it can’t be used in isolation – that there are a number of other things that have to be done by KiwiRail in order to ensure that the model is used appropriately,” he told Radio New Zealand.

Coroner Marcus Elliot made several recommendations to KiwiRail, including that KiwiRail develops systems for gathering and sharing information on collision and near-miss history, engineering experience at the level crossing interface, local knowledge of driver and pedestrian behaviour and international best practice, to name a few.   He also recommended KiwiRail establish formal lines of communication with the Police and Serious Crash Unit to obtain information about near-misses and collisions.

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Related topics: Litigation & dispute resolution; Government; Transportation

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