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Safety first around the rail: TasRail

PublishedAug 07, 2023

TasRail has urged the Tasmanian community to put safety first near railway tracks and trains.

 “Night and day, 24/7, our people work to deliver millions of tonnes of commodities across our State, providing a safe and reliable transport alternative to road. For the most part, our people work in heavy industrial workplaces, or drive locomotives that can’t swerve and take up to 1000 metres to stop under emergency brake,” TasRail CEO Steven Dietrich said.

 “As a result, keeping members of the public and our team members safe is one of TasRail’s most important priorities – we want everyone to go home safe and well every day.”

 This week is the 18th annual National Rail Safety Week. Each year in August, the rail industry combines to highlight to the community the importance of staying safe around railway tracks and trains. Nationally there are on average seven fatalities per month and around 1,880 level crossing and trespass near hits annually. This year, the TrackSAFE Foundation has launched a new campaign focused on regional rail safety ‘Expect the Unexpected. Watch out for Trains!’ The campaign is a reminder that trains can come anytime, day or night, including when they are least expected.

 Mr Dietrich said that TasRail continued to reach out to educate the Tasmanian public about rail safety via a variety of platforms, including online, radio, and community and school group visits.

 “We need heavy and light vehicle drivers to understand that these are road rules, not rail rules, that we are asking them to follow,” he said.

 “Just as importantly, we need people – pedestrians, cyclists, fisherman, photographers, runners, school children, dogwalkers, you name it – to remember that our rail corridor and infrastructure, especially bridges and our yards, are no place for members of the public.”

 In 2022-23 TasRail reported a 5 per cent increase in trespass incidents around the State.

 TasRail Risk and Compliance Lead Corrie Summers said that disappointingly this figure had been steadily on the rise since 2020.

 “Rail yards are 24/7 industrial work sites and should only ever be accessed by trained staff and personnel. Members of the public should never enter a working railyard as a matter of safety. You wouldn’t walk your dog or go for a run in a building site, don’t do it in a rail yard. There is no such thing as a safe shortcut through the rail corridor,” she said.

 “Our team members continue to report an increased level of risk-taking behaviour amongst all ages. Of particular concern is young people using bridges for recreational activities or being distracted by mobile devices.

 “When we visit schools to discuss these incidents, very few students have considered the long-term repercussions of these choices. It’s a very important conversation that we would encourage parents to have with their children.”

 Thanks mainly to the actions of Northern Tasmanians in 2022-23, TasRail was able to report an 11 per cent decrease in level crossing failure to stop or give way incidents around the State. Unfortunately, figures, for the Northwest Coast (the area with the highest rail activity) continued to rise – up 21 per cent since last year.

 Ms Summers emphasised that while many thousands of Tasmanians interact with the railway daily, the majority without incident, any level crossing incident had the very real potential to cause serious harm or loss of life.

 “A decision to ignore the signs and signals at railway crossings could have far-reaching effects – to motorists and pedestrians, their families, locomotive drivers and rail staff and the broader community. Fatalities, incidents and near hits on the network can cause severe and lasting trauma to the rail employees involved, and most of these incidents can be avoided.”

 For further information about rail industry initiatives during National Rail Safety Week go to https://tracksafefoundation.com.au/event/rail-safety-week/









Trespass in the rail corridor





Level crossing – failure to stop or give way







Crossings of concern:

Main Street, Penguin; Formby Road, Devonport; Henslow Street, Tarleton

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