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Minister calls for greater rail safety awareness

Minister calls for greater rail safety awareness

Minister for Transport Safety Harry Duynhoven is urging people to take greater care at level crossings and on rail tracks following the launch today of Australasian Rail Safety Awareness Week.

“On both sides of the Tasman, every year, we witness terrible crashes on our railway tracks. In New Zealand this year we have already had seven rail-related deaths. This is seven deaths too many,” said Mr Duynhoven.

This is the second annual Australasian Rail Safety Awareness Week and reflects the close working relationship that exists between New Zealand and Australia as both countries tackle the same rail safety issues. The week runs through to Sunday 29 July and aims to improve safety at rail crossings and reduce trespass on rail tracks.

New Zealand’s rail safety awareness week is a joint effort involving ONTRACK, KiwiRail (TOLL NZ), Veolia, Ministry of Transport, Auckland Regional Transport Authority, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Chris Cairns Foundation and Land Transport New Zealand’s Rail Regulation Unit.

Since 2003 there have been 86 fatalities on the New Zealand railway. Mr Duynhoven said rail operators, rail track managers and roading authorities do what they can to prevent crashes, but it is also important that the local community and individuals take responsibility for safety at rail tracks.

“Tragically, people still cross rail tracks into the path of on-coming trains. Trespassers on the network are also a major source of trauma and we continue to look for ways to keep people off the tracks. People have to understand that tracks are for trains only,” said Mr Duynhoven.

A series of hard-hitting Australian-made advertisements featuring accident scenarios at level crossings and illegal track crossings appeared on New Zealand televisions last night and will run throughout the week. Similar advertisements went to air last year.

“The reality is that these advertisements are not pleasant to watch, but they are intended to drive home the message that ignoring the basic rules around the rail network can end in tragedy. The advertisements ultimately aim to stop more of these tragedies from occurring,” said Mr Duynhoven.

A number of events are planned for rail safety awareness week, including a launch yesterday by Chris Cairns at Rolleston School, near Christchurch. Rail heritage operators are also supporting the week with open days in Christchurch and Dunedin.

Mr Duynhoven will host a formal reception at Parliament on Wednesday evening to mark Rail Safety Awareness Week.


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