Drivers and pedestrians throughout Auckland can cross the railway tracks more safely now that all road and pedestrian level crossings on the Auckland rail commuter network have been fitted out with automatic alarm systems. The announcement comes as upgrades to Takanini’s pedestrian level crossings, where warning bells and flashing lights were installed, were completed last week.
Linda Kelly, Takanini school principal, said that the new alarm systems were a welcome development for the school and the Takanini community.
“We’ve long been advocates for promoting the rail safety message to our students and indeed children throughout the community.
“Many of our students walk to and from school on their own so it’s absolutely essential they know the dangers of crossing the track. We do a lot of work teaching them to be rail safe and having loud and bright automatic alarm systems that they cannot ignore certainly helps,” she said.
KiwiRail Infrastructure and Engineering General Manager, Rick van Barneveld, said that, while level crossing collision figures were at an all-time low, pedestrians and drivers alike still needed to be vigilant.
“We’ve worked hard to improve safety at public level road crossings – in the last six years we’ve installed new or upgraded automatic warning systems at 64 level crossings throughout New Zealand. In Auckland alone that figure is 25.
“And while the national collision average has declined from three per month to one per month, we would obviously like to reduce this even further. Installing barrier arms, alarm bells and flashing lights do help, but public awareness campaigns like the recently completed Rail Safety Week also play an essential part to keeping this number down,” he said.
Since September 2006, KiwiRail has completed upgrades to level crossings throughout Auckland. This work has seen:
Automatic half-arm barriers added to 11 public road level crossings on the Western Line and Onehunga Line.
Automatic pedestrian gates and flashing light and bell alarm systems installed at five busy double track stand-alone pedestrian level crossings on the Western Line.
Flashing light and bell alarm systems installed at four stand-alone pedestrian level crossings on the Western Line and five pedestrian level crossings on the Southern Line.
Mr van Barneveld said that Auckland commuters were starting to benefit from the improvements KiwiRail had made to the network.
“We’ve made huge strides to improving the capacity, reliability and reach of the Auckland’s commuter rail network. The Developing Auckland’s Rail Transport (DART) project has seen the redevelopment of Newmarket Station and Junction; the Western line duplicated from Newmarket to Swanson and the Onehunga branch line re-opened.
“We’re well underway to improving the passenger experience for commuters and we’re looking forward to completing further upgrades to Auckland’s rail network in the future,” he said.
The current Auckland Electrification Project will see the installation of a new computerised signalling system throughout the Auckland metro area in preparation for new electric passenger trains. The first electric trains are due to arrive in 2013.