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Near collisions

Every week, on every railway line in New Zealand, there are many ‘near collisions’ where vehicles or people are almost hit by a train.

A near collision can either be at a level crossing or elsewhere on the railway tracks.

Locomotive engineers (train drivers) are obliged to report all near collisions, and if you are seen driving, walking or cycling in front of a train your details will be passed on to the Police. 

Statistics also show that motorists and pedestrians continue to take unnecessary risks at level crossings or fail to follow the warning signs.

  • In 2011 there were 113 recorded near collisions on the rail corridor. 
  • From August 2010 to the end of 2011 there were 193 near collisions between vehicles and trains.  
  • 37 percent of all near collisions since August 2010 occurred at crossings protected by barrier arms.
  • 76 percent of near collisions since August 2010 occurred at crossings with either flashing lights and bells or barrier arms.

Warning signs are there to protect motorists and pedestrians – always pay attention to them and stop, look and listen for trains every time.

Near collisions have an effect on train drivers, with some saying that near misses can be one of the hardest parts of driving trains. 

TrackSAFE conducts campaigns aimed at reducing the number of collisions and near collisions at level crossings. 

These campaigns aim to spread the message that train drivers are reporting everything that they see to Police - who may decide to either prosecute or issue a warning.

Read about locomotive engineer Ian Thornton's first hand experiences with near collisions and the impact they have.


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Latest news

Tawa crossing to get safety boost

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Safety on a Tawa level crossing is about to be stepped up, with KiwiRail set to install voice message units at the Collins Avenue crossing.

KiwiRail level crossing engineer Eddie Cook says the Tawa crossing is the first site in New Zealand to have the units installed.

The system aims to reduce the likelihood of a pedestrian crossing into the path of another train, by delivering a voice message to alert those using the crossing that a second train is coming.

The voice message units activate when another train is approaching, delivering the warning: “Another Train Approaching. Do Not Cross”.

Mr Cook says some pedestrians cross after the first train has passed without realising that there might be another train approaching from the other direction.
“The project is part of KiwiRail’s commitment to put safety first,” he says.

The Tawa crossing had been chosen because there was already a second train detection system in place.

TrackSAFE NZ Foundation Manager Megan Drayton says the initiative is an exciting development which could help to prevent level crossing accidents. 

“We know that people sometimes behave unsafely around railway tracks, due to distraction and other human factors,” she says.  “Any device that can further alert people to the presence of a second train will be a welcome addition to safety at level crossings.”

However Ms Drayton says that the public should remember that the best way to stay safe around railway tracks is to always obey the existing signs and signals that are there to warn of a train or trains approaching.  “Always look both ways for trains before crossing the tracks and only cross at designated level crossings,” she says.

Mr Cook says once the system had been up and running for a while it would be evaluated with a view to rolling it out across the country. Similar systems were used in the United States and United Kingdom, he said.

Work on installing the units is expected to start this weekend (June 25).  Read more

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