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Children learn to ‘cross with care’ during Rail Safety Week

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council
Local primary school students got to ride on board Metlink trains this week while learning about staying safe near the tracks as part of Rail Safety Week.

The theme of Rail Safety Week 2019, running from August 12-18, is ‘near misses’ which focusses on the more than 400 cases of near deaths or injuries that occur across New Zealand railroads each year.

Alun McCarthy, a Technical Operations Trainer for Transdev who operate Wellington services on behalf of Metlink, says the railways can be unknown territory for many children.

“Sometimes kids tend to think of train stations as being the same as bus stops and people walk around with their headphones in which is often dangerous as they can’t hear the trains coming.”

Students from Upper and Lower Hutt caught the train, some for the first time, into Wellington for a behind the scenes look at how our region’s trains operate and to learn how to keep safe at the stations.

“If a person is standing on the train tracks and the driver uses their emergency brake, it can still take up to 1500 metres before the train comes to a stop,” Alun explains to the children. He says in the 19 years he has been involved in the world of rail, near miss incidents seem to be reducing, but it is important to continue getting these messages out. “As long as we can get children to start thinking about safety around trains, they will cross the tracks with care.”

Students tested out emergency call buttons, public announcement systems and some even got the chance to try their hand at being a train driver with Metlink’s train simulator.

Greater Wellington Public Transport Committee Chair Barbara Donaldson says this year’s rail safety campaign has been an eye-opener for train users as well as others who cross tracks when walking or cycling.

“With over 14.3 million passenger journeys on our trains last year, it is clear we have busy railways so it is extremely important to teach people about rail safety from a young age. When someone has a near miss it doesn’t just affect that person, it also has an emotional impact on our locomotive engineers. These situations are often easily preventable.”

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