Man fined for ignoring ?ghost? train crossing

By RENEE REDMOND

GREG BRASH is a careful driver, but his failure to stop at a level crossing on the abandoned North Coast branch rail line has cost him hundreds of dollars.

Little did the Casino Hospital radiographer know that police last Sunday would issue him with a $316 fine and knock three points off his licence over the indiscretion.

Yet the Naughtons Gap Road rail crossing at Casino has not been used by a train since the State Government took away all services on the branch line in May.

At the same time that police are enforcing the stop sign at the level crossing, the electronic signals at crossings on the line have been covered over by the railways.

Mr Brash reacted with disbelief over the fine, and is appealing its imposition because of his good driving record.

"I feel really stupid stopping when there's no train, nobody stops," he said.

"I've seen people come into the hospital after an accident on a level crossing and I've stopped at this crossing every time for the past 24 years," the Jiggi resident said.

"It's not a safety issue, but it could be a potential revenue-raising exercise because people are not stopping anymore.

"I've done the wrong thing, but I think a lot of people don't realise they still need to stop at the crossings."

"I realise that stop signs at railway crossings are placed for the safety of both drivers and the general public on the trains," Mr Brash said.

"But when the train stops running the stop signs no longer serve their purpose of public safety."

Mr Brash said he had observed 50 vehicles cross the tracks during a half-hour period last week, of which less than a quarter stopped.

A NSW Roads and Traffic Authority spokesperson, Karen Smith, said yesterday the authority had no power to remove the stop sign from the crossing.

"As long as the stop sign is there, it is enforceable under the Australian road rules," Ms Smith said.

"The RTA has highlighted this issue with the rail authorities."

Lismore police said that drivers still needed to adhere to the normal stop sign laws until a decision was made on the rail line's future.

Mr Brash said he would pay the fine, but he would also write a letter to the Infringement Processing Bureau to make them aware of the issue.



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