Summer sees chances taken around live rail wires

03 February 2015 1:01PM

KiwiRail and Auckland Transport call on Aucklanders to watch out when driving or playing near the rail tracks as the electrical wires running above them offer no second chances. This follows a recent increase in emergency call outs to remove obstructions on overhead wires which power Auckland’s electric trains putting people at risk fortunately no-one has been hurt yet.

 

"The wires carry 25000 volts of electrical energy- that’s 100 times more powerful than  in our homes, and the electricity can jump or arc across the air. Anyone who gets too close or comes into contact with them will not have a second chance," explains Stephen Collett, KiwiRail Regional Manager.

"This is the first summer we’ve had potentially lethal wires live across the city’s entire rail network 24/7 since electric trains began running last year," says Mr Collett.

It’s vital to stay clear of these wires at all times, and people need to be aware of the dangers of letting anything come into contact with them Mr Collett says, "In the first few weeks of 2015 we’ve had to respond to several call outs where potentially dangerous situations have been caused by kites and fishing tackle amongst other objects."

Auckland Transport’s Group Manager Public Transport Mark Lambert says AT is concerned that Aucklanders’ behaviour may be putting themselves and the wider community at risk, "We run 437 services a day and with over 12 million passenger trips per year.  As well as being dangerous to commuters, it can also impact our day to day operations by putting our services behind schedule."

Mr Lambert says it is also important to remember it is not just electric wires that present a threat – the electric trains bring an increased risk to those close to the tracks as they are much quieter than their diesel counterparts.

The introduction of wires necessitated height restrictions at the 31 level crossings on Auckland roads within the electrified area. Most vehicles and loads do not exceed the restrictions but in summer months people increasingly tow boats which may have fishing rods off the back. Motorists with loads exceeding the height restrictions will need to use an alternative route or apply to KiwiRail for written permission to use a level crossing.

ENDS

Media contact: Tammy Dickinson, Senior Communications Advisor 09 363 7302