State Coroner Calls For Improving Railway Crossings
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 5, 2004
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA--The deaths of two wheelchair users have prompted the Victoria Coroner to call for improvement at the state's 709 pedestrian railway crossings, The Age news service reported Saturday.
Coroner Graeme Johnstone echoed demands by disability rights groups to upgrade railway crossings, but stopped short of endorsing their recommendations that underpasses or overpasses be built at all crossings. He said he realized it was not always economically feasible to do so.
Johnstone made the comments Friday while delivering his official findings into the deaths of Christopher Jones, 50, and Irena Gilewski, 41.
Jones, who had cerebral palsy, died in October 2002 after his wheelchair became trapped when the pedestrian gates automatically closed at a level crossing. Gilewski was struck and killed by a train six weeks later when her wheelchair got stuck in the tracks at another crossing.
Transport officials said that the government has committed $8.5 million to improve pedestrian crossings. In the past two years, nearly 50 crossings had been treated with compound surfaces to reduce the possibility of wheels getting caught in tracks.