As the Footplate Padre I am able to speak first hand on the drama of riding a high speed freight train coming towards a level crossing.
A level crossing is at its most dangerous were there is a double track. The reason is that a train running in one direction may clear the line, but there could be another train roaring through from the other direction.
An unfortunate accident happened in Victoria a few years ago for precisely this reason. A woman was waiting impatiently at a level crossing for the train to pass, and as soon as the last carriage was past, she ducked under the boom gate and headed across the tracks only to be hit and killed by a train coming through on the opposite track.
I recall my years as a locomotive engineman on the New South Wales Government Railways. This was a great fear of mine. Watching a pedestrian in this self same scenario.
From my experiences, the locations of most concern were on the Illawarra line and working steel trains up the mountain line to Summit Tank and then onto Moss Vale where the main south connected and onto Goulburn.
These heavy laden steel trains ran up to Moss Vale and then connected onto the main south double track lines on the Southern Tablelands.
The Illawarra line experiences were on the freighters running from Port Kembla to Enfield Shunting Yards in Sydney and the Illawarra suburban trains.
The heavy steel trains climbed the mountain line at 12mph (18kph) and once on southern tablelands flat at Robertson across the undulating topography and then onto the main south at Moss Vale, these trains ran at high speed.
Coming through towns such as Talong, Wingello and Bundanoon was always dicey, particularly when trains were passing in the other direction near level crossings. I recall it seemed quite common for predestines to be waiting for a train to pass and not knowing whether a train was hurtling towards the platform from the other direction on the double line track.
When this was occurring, I for one, would hang onto the GM Claxton which sounded the horn, or the Goodwin whistle chord which sounded like a train going past. It was 'heart in the mouth stuff' as the huge diesel with its heavy load - rushing past the platform to the level crossing - just as the opposite train's last wagon cleared.
The Illawarra line was a suburban double line, and had many more platforms than the country southern line.
Although freight trains along this line were restricted to 40mph (70kph) and ran mostly in the hours of darkness, there was always a lot of action around these suburban platforms.
Locomotive crews were never sure whether a pedestrian would risk running the double lines before the boom gates lifted, causing anxiety in all the crew. As these boom gates were so familiar and closed so often, locals often didn't wait, they'd seen it all before a thousand times. It only took one error of judgement.
As Footplate Padre, seeking a related example for biblical instruction, I found myself being reminded of things "converging".
Consider how the Apostles were able to spread Jesus message of Salvation.
(1) There was a common language (Greek),
(2) a general Peace (Roman law),
(3) Travel was reasonably safe and frequent (Trade Routes), and
(4) the Jewish Religion was licensed (the early evangelists travelled to synagogues to the farthest ends of the Roman Empire with the message of Jesus, who was a Jew as were the earliest disciples).
This was the one occasion in history when all these factors came together – at precisely the time that God gave His only Begotten Son to mankind to save them from their sin to Salvation.
There are likewise many occasions in our own lives where good things converge all at the right time. I can think of things happening in each of our children's lives as they left home and moved toward independence.
In Ministry too I am able to attest such 'converging' and marvelled at the Lord's blessings in such timing and ministry expansion and development. None of this is new for the follower of Jesus!
Dr Mark Tronson - a 4 min video
Chairman – Well-Being Australia
Baptist Minister 45 years
- 1984 - Australian cricket team chaplain 17 years (Ret)
- 2001 - Life After Cricket (18 years Ret)
- 2009 - Olympic Ministry Medal – presented by Carl Lewis
- 2019 - The Gutenberg - (ARPA Christian Media premier award)
Gutenberg video - 2min 14sec
Married to Delma for 45 years with 4 children and 6 grand children