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Rail, road groups join forces for Rail Safety Week

Transport Minister Simon O’Brien will today mark the beginning of rail safety week by launching the Western Australian component of a nationwide public information campaign designed to promote safety at rail level and pedestrian crossings.

Mr O’Brien said that each year there are a reported 50 serious near misses between motor vehicle and trains at level crossings in WA alone.

“While Main Roads WA will spend around $20million on rail level crossing improvements  in 2009-10 (including a recent Federal allocation of $14.07million to install boom gates on unguarded level crossings), it is still vital that drivers take care around level crossings and be aware of the dangers,” he said.

“Crashes between trains and vehicles have a devastating effect on everyone involved and, in most cases, could have been avoided.

“And over 90 per cent of fatal crashes are attributed to motorist error.

“Of the State’s 1,251 level crossings, 804 have only passive protection - stop and give way signage.

“The Federal funding will allow the State Government to spend an additional $12.57million in regional WA on crossings from Geraldton to Albany and Kalgoorlie to Esperance, and $1.5million will be spent by the Public Transport Authority to upgrade sites in the metropolitan area, including Byford and Serpentine.

“A total of 42 crossings will be upgraded.

“Regardless of what safety measures are in place at any level crossing, it is essential that you heed that warning, slow down, look, listen and be prepared to stop.”

The Minister said the campaign also called for safer pedestrian behaviour.

“We are seeing a disturbing trend in the Perth metropolitan area of pedestrians also taking dangerous short cuts at rail crossings,” he said.

“There are constant reports of pedestrians jumping closed gates to race for a train.

“This type of behaviour is not only dangerous to the individual concerned, but also puts others in harm’s way.”

Mr O’Brien urged all pedestrians to follow safety signage and always cross train tracks with caution.

“Stopping for one train to pass might cost you a few minutes of your time, but not doing so might cost you your life,” he said.

Rail Safety Week, which runs in Australia and New Zealand from July 24 to July 31, seeks to make motorists and pedestrians think twice before making irrational or irresponsible decisions around rail crossings.

The campaign is being funded by the PTA, the Office of Road Safety, Westnet Rail, and the Australian Railroad Group.  The television, radio, outdoor and online advertisements are based around the idea of your life flashing before your eyes, with the tag line - ‘some things are worth waiting for’.

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