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Launch of Rail Safety Week 2013

Hon Michael Woodhouse
Associate Minister of Transport

12 August 2013

Launch of Rail Safety Week 2013

Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to speak this morning at the launch of Rail Safety Week.

This year the focus for Rail Safety Week is encouraging pedestrians to be safe around train tracks. I’m pleased to see that students from Mount Albert Primary School are involved in today’s events.

Our young people play a vital role in ensuring that the message about staying safe around trains, railway stations and tracks is shared with their wider communities.

That important message is to use your ‘train brain’ – and stay off the tracks – tracks are for trains.

This message will be reinforced by an innovative new campaign launched today which includes advertising, posters, an online quiz, a new computer game and a schools’ competition. Students from around the country are being challenged to come up with creative ways of sharing rail safety messages with other students.

I look forward to seeing the winning entries and commend the Chris Cairns Foundation, KiwiRail and the New Zealand Police for their on-going commitment to encouraging safe behaviour around trains and train tracks.

Across New Zealand trains play an important role in moving both people and freight. Since Britomart opened ten years ago, more and more Aucklanders are using trains, with over 10 million train journeys a year.

By 2014 there will be new electric trains operating on Auckland’s railway networks, and these new trains will be more energy efficient, faster and quieter.

This means that it may be hard to hear a train approaching, which is even more reason to reinforce the message to stay off and well clear of train tracks. A train cannot easily stop and cannot swerve to miss someone on the tracks. That’s why it is everyone’s responsibility to stay off the tracks.

You can also reduce your risk by staying alert and focussed when near railway tracks – to avoid distraction always remove your IPod or mp3 player and never use your mobile around railway tracks.

People trespassing on the tracks is currently the leading cause of railway-related deaths. Over the last 10 years nearly 100 people have died as the result of being on train tracks – with 16 people being killed in the last year alone. These tragic incidents have a huge impact on the victims’ families and friends, as well as train drivers, eyewitnesses, health services and communities.

I urge you to spread the message with family, friends and colleagues. Use your train brain – stay off the train tracks, pay attention around railway lines and stations, and make sure that you only walk over tracks where there are pedestrian bridges, tunnels or level crossings. By taking care, we can all stay safe.

Rail Safety Week is an excellent initiative to highlight the care that needs to be taken around railway tracks and trains year-round. For those of you who are travelling on the Safety Train, I hope you enjoy the journey.

The Rail Safety Week video, computer game, quiz and competition are accessible via KiwiRail’s website www.kiwirail.co.nz/in-the-community/safety-and-compliance/rail-safety-week-2013.html.

ENDS

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