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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tracksafe tragedy in making

Just watched a TV One News item on 'Tracksafe' for Auckland school kids now there are finally electric trains.  A booklet and singing a naff song are supposed to protect 5 year olds from being killed crossing rail lines?  That is cheaper than fully fencing off the rail corridor and removing all the level crossings, but that is what must be done now the services have increased.  It should have been done before electrification.  Obviously electrification of their trains in their thinking is more important than ending the killing of people by their trains on level crossings.

How many more will be killed before they do this? I bet at least a dozen, maybe 20 or so from the turn of the century.  We've already had people in wheelchairs caught in the tracks on level crossings being hit and dragged along the line by trains and nothing gets done.  Pretty hard to top that, maybe two or three kids taken out all at once?  Still not horrifying enough to justify a $1m pedestrian tunnel or bridge, a $25-$30m road/rail realignment?  

Not to have planned to do this - and all the added expense of foregone opportunities and cost escalation and time delay when these separations are done - isn't just incompetence, it amounts to sabotage.  It is an expense in the design of the system that needs to be dealt with rather than pretend they can operate lines which are going to have trains every five minutes going a across roads without any incident when the traffic impact is already going to be chronic at that frequency.  

There should be no level crossings of any description in the urban area and the whole urban corridor should be fenced off.  It is reckless to encourage children (let alone adults) to cross rail lines by making paths and roads across them - level crossings are inherently unsafe and getting more dangerous over time as speeds and services increase.  The signs etc. provide a false sense of security.  

The Tracksafe team and Auckland Transport are responsible for all those who die on the tracks so long as they remain accessible and unfenced.  If people want someone to blame for each death, blame them.


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