The TrackSAFE Foundation and the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) are urging all Australians to be more vigilant and cautious around level crossings and station platforms, due to the high rate of seven monthly fatalities on the Australian rail network.
Chair of the TrackSAFE Foundation and the ARA, Danny Broad, said more than 100 organisations in Australia and New Zealand will unite for Rail Safety Week, held from August 7-13, to remind people to ‘Expect the Unexpected. Watch out for Trains!’.
Between 2016-2022, there were an average of 84 rail-related fatalities per year, or seven per month in Australia, and 1,760 level crossing and trespass near hits.
During Rail Safety Week, rail operators, police, governments and community organisations across the country will hold several events including safety demonstrations and webinars and encourage schools and community groups to raise awareness about how to stay safe around rail.
“Rail Safety Week highlights how the industry, unions, police, government and the wider community can work together to support a safer rail network,” Mr Broad said.
“This week we are reminding everyone to be more alert and aware when near or on the rail network – a moment of distraction can change your life forever.
“Let’s remember to take off our headphones, not use our phone while getting on to a train and always obey signs at level crossings – whether we’re a pedestrian or a driver in a vehicle.”
The metropolitan campaign ‘Stand Back. Look Up. Stay Rail Safe.’ features Paralympian and rail accident survivor, Vanessa Low, sharing her own lived experience as a rail accident survivor. When Vanessa was 15, she fell from an overcrowded platform and into the path of an oncoming train and lost both her legs in the accident.
ARA CEO and TrackSAFE Foundation Director, Caroline Wilkie, said this year’s campaign will also include a focus on regional areas with the reminder to ‘Expect the Unexpected. Watch out for Trains!’.
“Trains are a significant part of Australia’s regional transport network and can come any time, day or night, including when we’re least expecting them,” Ms Wilkie said.
“Fatalities and near hits on the network may cause severe trauma to rail employees and the wider community and most incidents can be avoided.”
TrackSAFE Foundation Executive Director, Heather Neil, recommends the following tips to stay safe on and around rail:
- Turning down distractions by taking off headphones and looking up from phones
- Not rushing to beat the gate at level crossings
- Holding onto handrails on trains
- Always obeying level crossing signs and signals
- Always checking for trains in both directions
For more information and access to free Rail Safety Week 2023 resources visit here.