13 Aug 2019

KiwiRail launches 'memorials' for near misses

12:20 pm on 13 August 2019

In a bid to encourage road user and pedestrian safety, NZTA, Police, TrackSAFE NZ, and KiwiRail have launched a campaign based on near misses with trains.

The campaign features 'memorials' for people who've had close calls with trains and feature a scannable QR code that links to video footage of the incident.

It's part of the annual Rail Safety Week which aims to raise awareness and encourage safe behaviour around trains, railyway tracks, and crossings.

KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller said close calls happen on a daily basis and take a huge toll on locomotive engineers.

"In a lot of cases people are missing death or serious injury by seconds. It is often just luck that they are not killed," Mr Miller said.

"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," he said.

Superintendent Steve Greally, national manager for road policing, said train drivers deserve to work without the fear of hitting pedestrians or cars.

"Unfortunately, some people have their head down looking at their phone, they have headphones in, or they are just plain not looking and they step out onto railway tracks in front of a train," he said.

"The lucky ones realise before it's too late and step back. The unlucky ones lose their life from that moment of inattention."

NZTA general manager of safety Greg Lazzaro said it's a sad fact that since 2012, 114 people have been killed and a further 46 have been seriously injured after being hit by trains.

"Every one of these deaths and serious injuries has a devastating impact on families and on our communities," Mr Lazzaro said.

"We also can't ignore the significant impact of near misses - on the individuals involved, the train drivers and witnesses to the incident."

"We all lead busy lives, but it's vital when you're around trains, tracks and level crossings to take notice of your surroundings and cross with care," he said.