Rail safety education and awareness in New Zealand was strengthened today with the amalgamation of rail safety charity the Chris Cairns Foundation w
ith Australian harm prevention charity TrackSAFE.
The formal launch of TrackSAFE Foundation New Zealand (“TrackSAFE NZ”) was held at Parliament and hosted by Associate Minister of Transport Hon Michael Woodhouse.
Chairman of the TrackSAFE NZ Board Mr Jim Quinn says the Chris Cairns Foundation has been a successful initiative and the education and awareness campaigns run over the past six years have contributed to an overall decline in railway deaths and injuries in New Zealand by twenty per cent since 2002.
“However we can’t afford to be complacent and let this issue fall off the agenda,” Mr Quinn says. “One level crossing collision between a fully loaded passenger train and a heavy vehicle could be potentially catastrophic and every near collision, incident and fatality can also cause severe and lasting trauma for affected rail employees.”
Mr Quinn says Chris Cairns and his charity have been working collaboratively with TrackSAFE in Australia for the past two years, and this change means that the two organisations will be able to formally work together in the future to pool ideas, share resources and work together on mutually beneficial rail safety campaigns.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed to formalise the agreement between the two organisations.
Chris Cairns will remain an ambassador to the two TrackSAFE organisations and will continue to actively support and promote charitable initiatives that drive to improve safe behaviour around the rail corridor in both countries.
Chairman of TrackSAFE in Australia Mr Bob Herbert says he is delighted to see a formal collaboration:
“Too many people lose their lives in preventable incidents in both New Zealand and Australia, Mr Herbert says. “I am delighted to be here in New Zealand tonight to support this initiative and show that we are united in addressing the issue of rail safety and working together for a better future for Australians and New Zealanders.”
TrackSAFE in Australia is a registered Harm Prevention Charity that was established in 2012 and based on the model of the Chris Cairns foundation. It aims to reduce incidents on the rail network resulting from suicide and reckless behaviour. In doing so it strives to create a better workplace and minimise trauma caused to rail employees who witness near collisions, injuries and fatalities whilst simply doing their job.
The launch was attended by key rail safety stakeholders from New Zealand and Australia, Chris Cairns, his parents Sue Wilson and Lance Cairns, as well as members of the extended Cairns Family.
At the launch event TrackSAFE NZ announced a new award for contribution towards rail safety improvement in New Zealand. The “Louise Cairns Award” was established in memory of Chris Cairns’ sister Louise who was killed in a level crossing in 1993 when a cement truck collided with a passenger train at a level crossing in Rolleston. Two other women died in the collision and eight people were seriously injured.
The inaugural award was presented to Waikato University PhD student Helen Clark who is researching the factors affecting the perception of a train’s travelling speed. Her study builds on her Master’s research which found that observers consistently perceive trains as travelling slower than smaller vehicles even when a train is travelling at the same speed or faster - a visual illusion of speed due to its size.
The PhD study will investigate why this occurs and consider what potential strategies could be used to combat or reduce this visual illusion, by exploring both educational avenues and physical modifications to road/rail intersection junctions.
Rail statistics in New Zealand
Trespassing is the leading cause of railway deaths in New Zealand and around the world. From 1994 to the end of 2012, 204 people died while trespassing on railway tracks.
In 2012 there were seven collisions with people at pedestrian level crossings. This was five more than in 2011 and four above the previous 10 year average. This is the highest number of public pedestrian collisions since 1998 when there were eight collisions. Fortunately there have been only two pedestrian level crossing collisions to 30 September 2013.
Vehicle collision rates have begun to decline. In the past ten years there have been 235 collisions between cars and trains at public road level crossings. The 16 public road level crossing collisions for 2012 were below the previous 10 year average. This is equal to the previous lowest ever recorded (in recent decades) numbers achieved in 2011 and 2006.
There have been only 11 collisions at public road crossings to 30 September 2013 so the end of year collision total for this year will again be lower than average.
For further information at TrackSAFE New Zealand, contact: Megan Drayton, Foundation Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org ;
For further information at TrackSAFE Australia, contact: Naomi Frauenfelder Foundation Manager TrackSAFE Australia: email@example.com
Or contact: Fonverne@uic.org