Shared from the 5/14/2019 Bayside Leader eEdition

Works may have saved Gloria

PTV slammed after Grenville St crossing safety upgrade deferred months before train tragedy

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Julie Smerdon says an elderly woman’s death at the Grenville St rail pedestrian crossing could have been avoided if PTV had completed safety works as promised. Picture: Wayne Taylor

A notorious Hampton railway crossing where a woman was killed last month had been promised gates and sirens — but Public Transport Victoria reneged on the work just months before her tragic death.

PTV has been slammed after the death of Hampton grandmother Gloria Holmes, 83 — who was struck by a train while walking her dog across the Grenville St rail crossing on April 15.

Neighbours have long been calling for safety upgrades at the crossing, leading to the authority identifying it as “one of nine highrisk pedestrian crossings planned to be upgraded by PTV in 2017-18”.

But, in a letter seen by Leader, the authority wrote to residents in November stating: “A sudden change in the risk profile of certain level crossings in Victoria required other crossings be prioritised”.

Julie Smerdon, of Grenville St, said she had witnessed three other deaths at the crossing since moving to the area in 1982.

Ms Smerdon said the authority’s response was “sickening”.

She said Ms Holmes’ death could have been avoided as gates would have made it “impossible to cross there when a train is approaching”.

“These are just the deaths I know about and the crossing has been a constant worry my whole life,” Ms Smerdon said.

“This is not going to be the last death there.”

Pubic Transport Users Association spokesman Daniel Bowen said safety was paramount at rail pedestrian crossings.

“The fact there are no gates at this crossing is disappointing,” he said.

“(It) wouldn’t be a very expensive exercise compared to some of the road and level crossing removals.”

PTV chief executive Jeroen Weimar refused to say if and when the crossing would be upgraded.

Mr Weimar did not answer specific questions about why the works were reprioritised or what other crossings — if any — were upgraded instead.

He said the authority was working to remove all pedestrian crossings, and urged residents to be aware of the dangers.

This is not going to be the last death there … the town is swelling with people,
JULIE SMERDON, NEARBY RESIDENT

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