Train driver urges care at crossings

DEENA COSTER
Last updated 05:00 15/08/2014

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Taking a bit of extra time at railway crossings can save lives and it is a message one Stratford train driver knows only too well.

KiwiRail's Ian Thornton regularly travels on the Taranaki tracks and said he came across potential accidents two or three times a week, including a couple of recent near misses on Wednesday night.

He said most accidents were caused by people not paying close enough attention while driving or making the decision not to stop when they should.

"Some people get up and walk away and some don't," he said.

According to records kept by the Taranaki Daily News since 1995, eight people have died after being hit by a train in Taranaki, either as a pedestrian or as a passenger in a vehicle.

Like other drivers, Thornton had been involved in fatal accidents while on the job and said he vividly remembered the crashes he had been involved in.

"It stays with you, it never goes," he said.

Thornton said it was up to the public to obey the warning signs and take extra care at crossings to avoid any accidents in the first place.

"For the sake of a few seconds of having to sit there waiting, it's not worth the risk."

Thornton's message coincides with Rail Safety Week, which was launched around Australasia on Monday to encourage safe behaviour around trains and tracks.

So far this year, there have been 16 accidents in New Zealand where trains have collided with cars and cyclists, resulting in the deaths of five people.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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