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Copeland: Too much danger at level crossings

Thursday, 30 March 2006

Copeland: Too much danger at level crossings

United Future MP Gordon Copeland is unimpressed with the answers he received in Parliament this afternoon in response to his question on rail safety.

He said "36% of rail fatalities (29 out of 80), and over 40% of cases of serious injuries (29 out of 70) caused by rail collisions, occurred at level crossings in the four years leading up to June 2004.

"The excuse used by the Minister for Transport Safety, Harry Duynhoven, that installing barrier arms at more level crossings is not "economically viable" is ludicrous. We are talking about peoples' lives."

Mr Copeland asked the Minister what the Government had done since the establishment of the Transport Safety portfolio to improve transport safety in New Zealand.

"I agree that we must celebrate the fact that today our road toll has reached the lowest ever number of fatalities, at 380, for a 12 month period.

"However it's vital that more is done to increase rail safety for pedestrians, passenger vehicles and heavy vehicles including trucks.

"Recently I was told about a truck-train collision, which occurred on a level crossing where there was no barrier arm or warning system.

"The driver's view of the track was obscured by a large gorse bush. The train did not have its headlight on, did not sound its horn, and the truck was sliced in half like a hot knife through butter because there was simply no warning for the driver.

"The latest data suggests that the number of level crossing collisions is not improving despite the establishment of a Transport Safety Minister.

United Future believes that we must not compromise New Zealanders' safety by ignoring this problem and we will therefore continue to investigate this further."

ENDS

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