Train surfers document illegal journey

Last updated 12:52 19/12/2012
train surfers
FREE TRIP: One of the images the train surfers posted on Instagram.
train surfers
LAZY RIDE: Another snap from the top of the train.

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A group of young Australian men who brazenly posted live photographs of a freight-train surf from Perth to Adelaide have been branded "just plain dumb" and their actions "extremely dangerous" as authorities appear hamstrung to do little more than issue small fines.

None of the men were arrested or charged when police finally caught up with them near Port Wakefield, about 90km from Adelaide on Tuesday morning - ending a saga that had played out online for nearly three days.

They had travelled more than 2400 kilometres across the Nullarbor Plain, where temperatures reached close to 40 degrees, before being spotted by a train controller, according to a spokesperson for the train operator.

The freight train was brought to a stop, but the men - aged in their mid to late 20s - fled from rail workers before being found by police.

A police spokesman said the long-haul train surf - which involved unlawfully riding on the roof of a train - was "an extremely dangerous" act.

"We would strongly discourage anyone from doing this," he said.

But even after they were confronted by police the group continued uploading imaging of themselves on to the social network photo sharing website Instagram, smiling, hitchhiking and even posing with police cars.

They received on the spot fines of A$165 each for riding on a non-carriage area of a vehicle, according to the spokesman.

The fine was about half the minimum cost of a rail ticket from Perth to Adelaide aboard the Indian Pacific, on which ticket prices start at A$315 per person.

Meanwhile, fines for travelling on TransPerth trains without a valid ticket range from A$100 to A$500 - meaning the "surfers" could potentially have received larger fines for riding inside a metropolitan train without a ticket.

The Australian rail industry created the not-for-profit trackSAFE Foundation in March to reduce near collisions, injuries and fatalities on Australian rail networks associated with reckless behaviour.

trackSAFE statistics revealed there were 1800 trespass incidents on rail property in 2011, which resulted in 35 fatalities.

A trackSAFE spokesman described the behaviour of the men as "just plain dumb," and potentially fatal.

"This sort of behaviour is extremely dangerous because one small mistake can have fatal consequences," he said, adding that their online campaign was "highly inappropriate".

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- WA Today


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