SOUTHWEST MIDDLESEX, Ont. -- Police are urging motorists to exert caution at railway crossings as they investigate a crash between a car and a passenger train which killed two women in southwestern Ontario.

The collision took place just before 11 a.m. on Monday at a clearly marked railway crossing east of Chatham, Ont, in what police described as normal weather conditions.

Such crashes, an Ontario Provincial Police spokesman said, are not out of the ordinary.

"We see these crashes happen periodically and the bottom line is either (drivers) are complacent or they're not paying attention," said Sgt. David Rektor.

Monday's crash saw a Via Rail train carrying 80 passengers plow into a grey Ford at a railway crossing that was marked with fully functioning lights, although it did not have crossing arms.

"It's a perfect level crossing. Visibility for at least a kilometre in each direction," said Rektor. "Everything was working properly. The (train's) warning horn was activated."

The crash flung the car some 200 metres into a ditch and also damaged the front end of the train.

"The car was completely destroyed," said Rektor. "The damage to the train was significant as well."

The 39-year-old driver of the car, identified Tuesday as Eunhwa Ahn, and her 37-year-old passenger, Gyujin Shon, both from Strathroy Caradoc, Ont., were pronounced dead at the scene.

A passenger on the train suffered minor injuries but didn't need medical attention, police said. The train, which was travelling from Windsor to Toronto, was able to continue on to its destination after about four hours.

While the collision is still under investigation, Rektor said it highlighted the need for motorists to pay attention at railway crossings.

"I was at that location a couple of years ago for a very similar crash involving a fatality," he said. "I've seen a lot of level crossing crashes and it's continually driver error that leads to it."

It's hardly ever a case of a car getting stuck on the tracks, Rektor said, but rather a situation in which a driver believes they can make it across before the train arrives.

"You get the train coming at 100 kilometres per hour, they're big, it looks like it's moving slow but it's coming at highway speed or faster," he said. "You can't outrun these trains."

Trains also take time to stop, Rektor noted, making it hard for engineers to avoid crashing into vehicles at crossings even if they see them up ahead.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the circumstances of Monday's crash.