Record low of vehicle collisions with trains
Figures released by KiwiRail show that 2019 had the lowest number of collisions between vehicles and trains on record In New Zealand.
In 2019, there were 12 collisions between vehicles and trains. This is down from 25 collisions in 2018, says a statement from KiwiRail.
TrackSAFE NZ manager Megan Drayton says while one collision is one too many, it's encouraging to see this number come down to such a low level.
“This is a pleasing trend. We want to commend New Zealand motorists on this outcome.
"People seem to be realising that trains always have legal right of way, they travel extremely fast and they cannot stop in a hurry. It's fantastic to see that many motorists are acting safely and legally at level crossings, and are fully aware of the risks of crossing the rail network."
Megan says while this decline in collisions cannot be attributed to one factor, several programmes over the past ten years have undoubtedly contributed to the reduction in collisions with trains.
Agencies are working together to upgrade and improve safety at level crossings - including improving visibility and signage and other improvements such as changing road alignments and installing flashing lights and bells and half arm barriers.
Some level crossing upgrades are part of Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency's Safe Network Programme which aims to achieve significant and sustained reductions in deaths and serious injuries on State Highways and local roads across New Zealand.
"These programmes of work by KiwiRail, Waka Kotahi and local councils to upgrade crossings around New Zealand are starting to have benefits,” says Megan.
"We also hope that our collective ongoing safety campaigns are helping to lift awareness of this important safety issue on our road and rail networks."
Collisions involve communities, families, KiwiRail's people and kids, says KiwiRail chief executive Greg Miller.
"Rail fatalities are all avoidable. We are turning Rail Safety Week into a year-round focus on safety, and we can see that's bearing results.”
While collisions between trains and heavy vehicles are relatively infrequent compared to vehicle to vehicle accidents on the road they have the potential for considerable loss of life and serious trauma.
"These incidents are devastating for everyone affected. Each and every collision has a traumatic impact not just on the victims and their friends and families, but also the wider community and the rail staff involved, particularly the train drivers," he says.