Killer train cross­ings

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - ELESHA ED­MONDS

Pedes­tri­ans, mo­torists and trains are a deadly com­bi­na­tion.

Yet they are forced to co­ex­ist at 48 level train cross­ings across Auck­land - and some­times end up col­lid­ing.

Three peo­ple have been in­jured, two se­ri­ously, and an­other per­son has been killed at a level cross­ing on Morn­ing­side Drive in three se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents over the past four years.

A 35-year-old woman re­mains in Auck­land Hospi­tal in a sta­ble con­di­tion af­ter her car was struck by a train at Morn­ing­side Sta­tion on Oc­to­ber 6.

The ac­ci­dent comes af­ter safety im­prove­ments were made to the plat­form fol­low­ing an investigation into the death of 24-yearold Te­jas Pa­tel in Jan­uary 2015.

A Ki­wiRail spokesper­son says they are look­ing at whether ad­di­tional safety mea­sures could be put in place.

‘‘As Morn­ing­side al­ready has alarms, bells and bar­ri­ers, there are few op­tions for fur­ther im­prove­ments.’’

But Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board mem­ber Graeme Easte says level cross­ings should be re­moved all to­gether.

On av­er­age a train crosses Morn­ing­side Drive 12 times every hour, halt­ing traf­fic.

Oc­ca­sion­ally two trains ar­rive around the same time mean­ing there is only a 10-sec­ond in­ter­val for a mo­torist to clear the tracks be­fore the bar­ri­ers come down again, Easte says.

He says mo­torists can eas­ily get stuck in front of the bar­ri­ers or pedes­tri­ans have to race the train to make it across the tracks.

Easte wants the rail­ways to go either un­der or over the road­ways so mo­torists and pedes­tri­ans will never cross one an­other.

The city of Mel­bourne has re­cently com­mit­ted to re­move at least 20 of its level cross­ings by 2018 to a cost of $2.4 bil­lion.

There is no bud­get or timetable to do any­thing sim­i­lar in Auck­land, Easte says.

‘‘I’m go­ing to move heaven or earth to make sure there is some­thing in the bud­get to make sure there is some­thing to do with level cross­ings.’’

A Ki­wiRail spokesman says there are no plans to change the cross­ing at present.

Let’s just start with re­mov­ing one, Easte says. ‘‘Each level cross­ing we close is one step closer to no ac­ci­dents.’’

There have been three se­ri­ous ac­ci­dents in nearly four years at Morn­ing­side Sta­tion. Is it time to get rid of Auck­land’s level train cross­ings?

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