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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gurney a stretcher

When I saw the news on TV3 last night the first things that flashed through my mind - fast, but perhaps not as fast as the train - is why has there been no mention of the police charging him for what by his own admission was entirely his own fault, and secondly that Gurney, being a professional runner and cyclist, is just the sort of arrogant wanker that routinely presumes they have immunity from the road rules. And seeing as how he only got a scratch I doubt he would have learnt anything from the experience - in fact he was quoted on TV3 and in today's NZ Herald as being mystified by the event. Mystified, confused but at no point taking any responsibility:

He said the crash was a blur and he was still trying to piece together what went wrong.

"I'm confused about how I ended up T-boning with a train.

"I'm a professional athlete that's used to looking for danger, I'm the last person that expects to have a crash with a train. It raises questions how did I get in that situation?"

On TV3 he was going further, blaming the existence of level crossings and suggesting they need to be examined! If only self-examination was in his play book.

As I said it is probably precisely because he is a professional cyclist and runner that he brazenly ignores the normal, commonsense rules to which everyone else adheres. We all know the type of super-serious cyclist and runner on the streets who keep barreling through intersections with barely a glance and expect others to avoid them no matter how in the wrong they are. They behave recklessly towards their own safety and endanger other users - it's what they do as a matter of course. They must think that because they are more vulnerable than a motor vehicle that they therefore have an automatic right of way and this bubble of exception is projected wherever they choose to go. When Gurney applied the same attitude to a train at a level crossing you think he would have learnt his lesson? Of course not - it's everyone elses fault.

The only difference between a level crossing and an intersection of a road that articulated trucks go along at 100kmph+ is that the level crossing has better signage and is also marked by painted stripes on the carriageway. There is simply no argument here - the difference in the two cases is that some people just don't respect the train crossings and treat them all as an optional give way situation - as if they were abandoned lines.

Gurney should be charged and he should also be made to pay Kiwi Rail for the delay and cost of interrupting the passengers. An apology - if it comes at all - will be quite false as he has already shown his inability to comprehend his actions.

Having said all that - in the situation of Auckland and the planned increase in services on the exisiting old lines which have many level crossing sections throughout the city - it must be taken into account that the Gurneys of this world do exist and because they are arrogant and reckless wankers they are impervious to all manner of education, signage and warning systems. The dazed elderly motorist, the manic courier driver, the inattentive pedestrian etc., will continue to cause accidents regardless.

The increase in services will inevitably increase the accidents and death toll if every - every single - level crossing in the metropolitan area is not removed. It will be expensive - but no more so than the electrification project. With trains every five or less than five minutes the road traffic - and pedestrains - will backlog and in the frustration become more likely to attempt to run through the barrier arms. If the trains are really going to be running as frequently as they need to to become a world class service then the urban level crossings must be phased out.


At 21/9/11 5:51 pm, Blogger ngatimozart said...

I am always amazed by the stupidity of people who try to beat the train across the crossing. The loco alone weighs about 105 tonne depending upon the make & model. Then there is the train behind. Each carriage / wagon has a tare weigh of about 2 - 3 tonne, going by memory, then you add the load. A 40ft container could be up to 40 tonne or 2 x 20ft containers plus a 10ft container on one wagon may be all up, 50 tonne. A coal wagon could be al up 90 - 100 tonne.

I personally know of a teenager who a few years back tried to beat the passenger train across the crossing. The train consisted of one loco plus five carriages and was doing 80kmh. It took 700m for the train to stop, killing said teenager in the process. He died fairly instantly, but they picked him up in pieces and the loco crew suffered a lot of trauma because of what happened. I knew both the teenager and the crew. I have no time for people who play this silly game and quite happily dob them in. Mind you I do suppose its evolutions way of removing defective genes from the gene pol.

At 21/9/11 6:56 pm, Blogger JonL said...

"He died fairly instantly, but they picked him up in pieces and the loco crew suffered a lot of trauma because of what happened."
This happens frequently on Perths Subbies - normally suicides, but also those who try and beat the odds. It's not just the driver - there are the maintenance and rescue guys who have to clean up afterwards - I believe bits of body smeared under a train unit are not pleasant to clear out.....

At 22/9/11 9:12 am, Blogger countryboy said...

Aaah ... Humans . We're a funny lot . Quick to blame , quick to hand out punishments . Quick to heap further pain upon pain . While I'm mystified by the efforts of the runner and the road cyclist , up and racing around in the dark hours before dawn trying to get a drug fix by wringing out the body , I have to say , I feel sympathy for Gurney . I doubt he did what he did deliberately . I very much doubt he gets a giggle out of the mayhem and distress he caused by having the arse end ripped off his car by a massive piece of speeding machinery . What it is however , is life . This is a part of what LIFE is about . Taking risks and/or phasing out and fucking up , the outcomes of which are not always in our favour . A child takes a risk taking their first steps and falling down the stairs . When they do and as parents , we don't say ' Junior ! You stupid little shit ( Smack ) I told you ! Never , ever take another step ) Instead , we pick them up , dust them off , give them a hug and say you'll be right ! Give it another go ! Wouldn't it be nice if we adults treated one another similarly . Gurney may well be a wanker but I don't think this event is an indication of that .

At 23/9/11 1:10 pm, Blogger Frank said...

I fail to understand how folks can approach a railway crossing and resist the urge to just PEEK to see if anything is coming along the tracks.

I mean, really, all it takes is a quick glance either way.

Aren't folk even remotely curious to know that there's a thousand tonnes of metal and glass coming toward them?


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