1 May 2018

Ngāruawāhia meets over dangerous railway bridge

From Checkpoint, 5:25 pm on 1 May 2018

Spurred by the death of an 11-year-old girl, Ngāruawāhia locals will meet with police, KiwiRail and other officials this evening over the town's railway bridge.

The girl was killed last month after she was clipped by a passing train while playing on the bridge.

A nine-year-old boy also died in 2002.

Locals say the bridge is treated as the town's playground by local children, who were no more scared of the trains than they were of monkey bars.

In summer children attempt to jump onto the train as it passes and then jump off into the water below. 

One local told RNZ there was not much else for children to do in town.

"It's the only thing fun around here for them to do," he said.

"A lot of kids around here don't wanna go home... There's always people around down there, new people to meet."

KiwiRail has tried to curb activity on the bridge by putting spiked metal bars on the fence, but by walking 20 metres in the other direction it was possible to get onto the bridge unobstructed.

Some locals were advocating for a platform that children and teenagers can jump off, away from the trains.

KiwiRail general manager of network services Henare Clarke said he would attend tonight's meeting with an open mind.