Over the next five years, Auckland Transport (AT) is planning safety improvements at all 51 pedestrian rail crossings in Auckland, by installing automatic gates, grade separation, or closing the crossing.
"There have been too many stories of people getting hurt or killed by trains in Auckland. Improving the safety at rail crossings is one of the ways that we can help prevent harm to our kids and families when they're getting around the city.
"We know that installing automatic gates at rail crossings saves lives. Since the introduction of automatic pedestrian gates at Glenview Road in Glen Eden and at Metcalfe Road in Ranui, there have been no further records of near misses at these locations.
"We've already started the work, with seven crossings getting automatic gate safety upgrades last year, including the site where Keenan Matthes was tragically killed last year. I'd like to pay tribute to the Matthes family for their advocacy on this issue and we're trying to make sure that no other family will have to experience the same heartbreak.
"This work is especially important given that there are newer, quieter trains going more frequently, meaning more chances for accidents. In the 12 months to 31 August, there have been 52 pedestrians near misses at level crossings on AT's network, with a further 51 near misses recorded in the rail corridor," said Phil Twyford.
AT have successfully completed the first phase of their Programme for the Automatic Pedestrian Rail Crossing Gates - 7 sites along the Western Line, namely Metcalfe Road, Glenview Road, Rossgrove Tce, Asquith Ave and Fruitvale Road, Lloyd Ave and Woodward Road.
The project team will now move onto the next phase, which includes St Georges Road, Chalmers Street, St Judes, Portage Road, and is due to be completed by June, in the current financial year. A further phase is expected to be completed in the 2019/2020 financial year and includes Te Mahia, Spartan Road, Takanini, Manuroa, Walters Road, Taka St and Tirnoui Rd.
Automatic gates and hazard lights explanation
Automatic pedestrian gates are activated by a sensor on the tracks and have a safety zone with a locked emergency exit gate. When a train approaches these pedestrian level crossings, the bells sound, red alarm lights flash on and off and the crossing gates close automatically. Any pedestrian caught on the crossing by the closing gates can take refuge in the safe zone and exit it by pushing a button that releases the locked exit gate. Locking the emergency gate is to minimise the misuse of the emergency exit gates.
(With inputs from New Zealand Government press release)