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Wednesday, 22 May 2019 08:44 pm

Wellington railway track death sixth in three years

Aug 27th, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

THE TEENAGER killed by a train while walking along the tracks at Horokiwi last week was the sixth such fatality in the Wellington region in the past three years.

There have been four pedestrian deaths on the Upper Hutt line and two fatal accidents and one serious injury on the Paraparaumu line.

Te Ahi Kapura Rokopa Mangu, 20, of Te Awamutu, was hit by a southbound train while walking between Petone and the ferry terminal about 8.30pm last Friday night.

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances relating to his death.

The Hutt line was closed until 11.50pm and buses were provided between Petone and Wellington while police investigated the accident scene.

Train drivers say they are deeply affected and although employer KiwiRail offers counselling, the experience stays with them forever.

Christine Sharma, a locomotive engineer based in Wellington, says: “Drivers are continually facing incidents where the public are cutting through fences from one side to the other at undesirable places on the rail corridor to save time.

“Some people just don’t look.”

Ms Sharma warns people not to be complacent about the timetable: “Sometimes our trains run late or they could be authorised … to run in the opposite direction.” 

The electrical multiple units on Paraparaumu line take 460 metres to stop at 90 to 95 kilometres per hour on a level piece of track. In drizzle or frosty conditions, it takes longer.
If a figure looms in front of the train, the drivers can’t always stop, try as they might, says Ms Sharma.

“When driving the units, my job is to concentrate on signals, answer radio calls, knowing the positions of stop boards at work sites. Sometimes this all happens simultaneously.”

Nigel Parry, marketing communications manager says KiwiRail reinforces the message that tracks are for trains, and only for trains.

“If a pedestrian is caught in front of a train the consequences are almost always serious or fatal, which isn’t something any of us want.”

The only safe way to cross the tracks is by using a subway, pedestrian level crossing or overbridge, KiwiRail says.

Picture: Risky place for pedestrians.

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