Tracking progress for Rail Safety Week

2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 12, 2019

Near-miss crosses being installed at a level crossing in Levin.

Eighteen automatic safety gates have been installed in Auckland since the start of 2018 to keep commuters and pedestrians safe, said Transport Minister Phil Twyford when launching Rail Safety Week.

Rail Safety Week runs from 12 to 18 August and this year‘s campaign features ‘near miss memorials‘ at key level crossings to raise awareness about the risks of unsafe behaviour.

Auckland Transport and KiwiRail will install 15 more sets of gates on the South and West Auckland lines by mid-2020.

Twyford said safety is the government‘s top transport priority.

“There have been too many stories of people getting hurt or killed by trains in Auckland. Improving the safety at rail crossings is an important way to stop kids getting hurt or killed when they‘re getting around.

“We know that installing automatic gates at rail crossings saves lives. Since the introduction of automatic pedestrian gates at the site where Keenan Matthes was tragically killed in 2017, there have been no further reported near misses.

“I‘d like to pay tribute to the Matthes family for their advocacy. Together we‘re trying to make sure that no other family experiences the same heartbreak.”

Twyford said the work was especially important given there are newer, quieter trains running more frequently, meaning more chances for accidents. There were 415 near misses recorded on railway lines across New Zealand last year and any of them could have resulted in a tragedy.

“Installing safety gates at level crossings is a crucial part of improving safety around rail tracks. We also need to teach people how to be careful around trains – that‘s what Rail Safety Week is about,” said Twyford.

The government is also investing $26 million to upgrade the highest risk level crossings on state highways through the Safe Network Programme.