Community urged to prevent further deaths off rail bridge

16 January 2015 2:02PM

KiwiRail and NZ Police are urging Ngaruawahia residents to help keep their young people safe this summer and stop them jumping off the rail bridge over the Waikato River.

Several groups have been seen on the bridge and KiwiRail is concerned the problem may escalate.

KiwiRail Zero Harm Manager Aaron Temperton is calling on the local community to help stop the practise.

“The thrill of jumping off a bridge is not one worth dying over. I can’t begin to imagine how it feels for those who lost a beloved family member doing just that to see the jumpers and know what can happen.

“We simply have to get the message out that what might seem like fun is actually a matter of life or death. We’ve seen several close calls in recent weeks and these are also incredibly stressful and traumatising for our staff. If a train hits someone the impact will be fatal and it has a devastating affects on the family, friends and driver.

“We are asking parents and community leaders to help us manage this problem. We understand how appealing a swim in the river is in this hot weather. However railway lines and bridges are out of bounds for a very good reason - they are dangerous.

“Trains take a long time to stop and they cannot swerve. The railway line is now very busy. Over the past few years KiwiRail had worked closely with the local police and council to address the problem," Mr Temperton said.

“We have installed heavy duty fencing and surveillance cameras and the local police do a good job of monitoring the situation for us. This has helped reduce issues over the past few years, but not stopped it altogether.

“We need the community to actively ‘step up’ as well and help us with this, before there is another tragedy."

Neil Mouncher, Community Police Officer says his team will be carrying out daily regular patrols in the area over the coming weeks.

“We’ll remind people that by being on the bridge they are trespassing which is illegal – and with good reason.

“We’re the ones that have to tell families that a loved one isn’t coming home. It’s not a job I want to be doing. The whole community needs to look out for each other, if you see it happening ask the children to stop… tell their parents. You’ll know who they are it’s a small place we live in.

Anyone wants to find out more about rail safety issues can come along to the NZ Police Ngaruawahia community day on January 21st.

KiwiRail also experienced similar issues in Huntly and fencing and cameras had also been installed. Rail safety charity TrackSAFE will be contacting the local schools to offer support in raising awareness of the need for safe behavior around the tracks.

 

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Media Contact: Tammy Dickinson, Senior Communications Advisor, 09 363 7302, 027 258 0043