Rail Safety Week 2013: Don’t be a dur brain!

12 August 2013 8:08AM

People are being urged not to be a “dur brain” by trespassing on train tracks as part of an innovative new campaign for this year’s Rail Safety Week.

Appealing new Train Brain characters are being used to communicate safety messages to pedestrians - such as not being distracted by wearing headphones and using mobile phones - but to instead stay focused and alert around trains and not trespass on tracks.

The campaign is being launched by KiwiRail in Auckland today, in association with the Chris Cairns Foundation, and is supported by the NZ Police.

Jim Quinn, KiwiRail’s Chief Executive, says the company decided to take the awareness campaign in a different direction this year to better engage with children and teenagers.

“The characters appear in posters, a video and computer game, and while they are endearing and amusing, they help to explain very serious rail safety messages and will appeal to a wide audience, particularly young people.”

 “Trespassing is the highest cause of railway deaths,” says Mr Quinn. “Pedestrian complacency and risk taking around train tracks is leading to deaths, injuries and near collisions around the country and the impact of this is huge and wide ranging.”

Twenty pedestrians died on train tracks in the last year and five were seriously injured. In the last ten years over 100 pedestrians have died on train tracks and over 30 people have been seriously injured.*

“These incidents affect not just the injured, family and friends, but are also extremely distressing for our train drivers and staff. These numbers also don’t include the many near misses our drivers witness every day,” says Mr Quinn.

 “Over the last year further improvements have been made to rail infrastructure to reduce the opportunity for trespass, including new fencing at trespassing trouble-spots, but it continues to be a problem.”

According to rail safety campaigner and former international test cricketer, Chris Cairns, there doesn’t appear to be a stereotypical trespasser.  “ They seem to be all ages, but with a bias towards younger males. They may not even be train users, but people taking short cuts along or across train tracks because they see it as more convenient than using a proper railway crossing.”

He says other types of risk taking includes riding bikes or walking around barrier arms that are down at a level crossing, running across the track in front of an approaching train, train surfing on the outside of a train, tagging, and vandalism, including throwing objects at trains.

 “People don’t understand the risks or are complacent about them. This campaign aims to remind people about the dangers involved and what they need to do to keep safe,” Mr Cairns says.

Every year children trespass on train tracks and sometimes are killed or seriously injured. Educating them about rail safety is a key focus for this year’s campaign. A competition for schools with years 1-8 students is running over Rail Safety Week. Children can work in a team and write and perform their own rap, song or poem to spread the message to others at their school about how to stay safe around train tracks. The prizes include iPads and $500 worth of vouchers.

The new Train Brain characters can be seen on a fun video and computer game launched on KiwiRail’s website today: www.kiwirail.co.nz . There is also an online Train Brain Teaser to test people’s rail safety knowledge and win either a $100 worth of Westfield or iTunes vouchers (one of ten).

*This includes self-harm incidents.


Media enquiries: KiwiRail: 04 498 2038 or Chris Cairns Foundation : Megan Drayton, 027 472 7002.