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Stay safe near railway lines this summer

For immediate release

19 December 2012

Stay safe near railway lines this summer

KiwiRail and the Chris Cairns Foundation are warning people to take care around railway lines this holiday period in light of recent statistics showing that people are continuing to take unnecessary risks around the railway.

There have been over 230 reported cases of trespassing on the rail network this year. This includes people crossing tracks at places other than a level crossing and walking across or jumping off rail bridges.

So far this year 19 people have died on the rail network. This includes 15 people who were trespassing, one death in a vehicle level crossing collision and 3 deaths at pedestrian level crossings.

It is very disturbing to see the number of pedestrian deaths says KiwiRail General Manager Infrastructure and Engineering, Rick van Barneveld.

“We are reminding people that they should only ever cross tracks at legal pedestrian level crossings. And warning signs are there for a reason – they are to protect people and warn them that a train is approaching,” he says. “People need to remember that trains are quiet, they move faster than they appear, and they take a very long time to stop.

“At all times, and especially over Christmas, we are urging people to take care and be aware around the railway, to always obey the signs and make sure the lines are clear of trains before they cross the tracks.”

KiwiRail also urged people not to take short cuts along the tracks or across bridges. “During these hot summer months we see a spike in the number of people – both children and adults - jumping from our bridges. This is not only illegal, but a very dangerous thing to do,” says Mr van Barneveld.

Wairarapa residents are also advised to expect more freight trains re-routed through their region over the Christmas period.

Chris Cairns Foundation Manager Megan Drayton says it is pleasing to see a decline in the number of vehicle level crossing collisions this year, but warns people not to become complacent around the holiday period.

“We’ve had 13 vehicle collisions so far this year, and that has the potential to be the lowest figure since 2003,” she says.

“But typically in the period leading up to Christmas we tend to see a few collisions, possibly due to people being distracted as they head off on holiday.

“We urge people to stay alert over the holiday period, to obey the warning signs at level crossings and to always ensure the line is clear of trains before entering a crossing.”

KiwiRail locomotive engineers are also hoping for a collision-free Christmas.

“Our drivers are often the forgotten victims in collisions and near misses – by the time they see someone in front of them there is often little more they can do than sound their horn and hope for the best.”

ends

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