- Publish Date
- Monday, 12 August 2019, 5:10PM
A chilling video has captured the near-misses at railway crossings as oblivious pedestrians wander in front of trains.
The close calls on railway crossings are taking a "huge" toll on train drivers and have prompted the launch of a safety campaign between KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ at Parliament today.
In the 12 months to June 30, nationwide there were close to 300 near misses between people, vehicles and trains at railway level crossings.
Thirteen of those close calls happened in Hawke's Bay.
KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ are encouraging everyone to be more vigilant around railway tracks with at least one near miss on the rail network being recorded every day.
KiwiRail Group chief executive Greg Miller said it was important to take time to check and pay careful attention to the surroundings when near trains or railway lines.
"These close calls are happening daily and they take a huge toll on our locomotive engineers and everyone involved.
"In a lot of cases people are missing death or serious injury by seconds. It is often just luck that they are not killed.
"Although no one gets physically hurt in a near-miss, the driver, other rail staff, witnesses and of course the pedestrian or motorist all experience a level of trauma.
"Near-misses can be one of the hardest parts of locomotive engineers' jobs. They start to develop a sixth sense for danger, as they try to anticipate how a pedestrian or motorist will behave at an approaching level crossing.
"Tragically some of our drivers have been involved in collisions that have resulted in deaths and they don't want to repeat the experience so that's why we are calling on people to cross with care," Miller said.
TrackSAFE NZ Foundation Manager Megan Drayton said near misses with trains could be reduced if people complied with signs and signals in place to help people to cross safely.
"In the 12 months to June, KiwiRail reported there were 415 near-misses recorded.
"Of these, 299 occurred at public level crossings, and the majority of these crossings had flashing lights, bells or barrier arms installed.
"For this year's campaign we've installed 'near miss memorials' around the country at locations of these known near misses, mostly around level crossings."
"The 'near miss memorials' are a half white cross and represent the hundreds of New Zealanders who have narrowly avoided a serious or fatal collision on the railway tracks in the past year", Drayton said.
"We hope that these memorials will cause people to take greater care around trains and recognise that with growing populations, more trains services and faster and quieter trains, there's no room for complacency."
There are around 2,800 road level crossings in New Zealand. Almost half are public level crossings maintained by KiwiRail.
They are protected in one of three ways: by half-arm barriers, flashing lights and bells; by flashing lights and bells; or by Give Way or Stop signs.
The remainder are private level crossings located on private land.
There are around 120 stand-alone public pedestrian level crossings. They are protected by automatic gates or barriers, or flashing signs or flashing lights plus bells.
This article was originally published at nzherald.co.nz and is reproduced here with permission