It’s simple, Simon – those who need a warning about rail safety are likely to ignore it

If you need a wake-up call from Simon Bridges, maybe we would be better off without you.

When we say someone has gone off the rails, it means they have lost track of reality.

This must make it hard for the do-gooders who today have launched a campaign which warns us to keep off the rails.

Gotta say it was surprising to see Simon Bridges involved in this thing.

Wearing his hat as Associate Minister of Transport, Simon (or a press secretary) banged out the media statement headed Rail Safety Week Focussed On Raising Pedestrian Awareness.

We are told in the statement (here) that Rail Safety Week is a timely reminder for all drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to be aware of the dangers around rail tracks and crossings.

If drivers, cyclists and pedestrians need reminding of the dangers around rail tracks and crossings, there’s a fair chance they are thrill-seekers and/or potty.

These people are unlikely to take much notice of the campaign message and there’s an argument in favour of letting them learn the hard way the folly of their mindless behaviour.

By the way – the Wellington Railway Station, where the launch took place, is a three-minute stroll from the Beehive.

Did he walk? Or did he take a ministerial car, which – thanks to the one-way road system and traffic lights at that end of the town – would have taken much more than three minutes?

But let’s take a look at the worthiness of the exercise in which he was engaged.

This year’s Rail Safety Week campaign aims to reduce trespassing on rail tracks — the leading cause of railway related deaths in New Zealand — and encouraging safe behaviour around stations and pedestrian crossings.

“Trespassing can include taking short cuts down or across tracks, using tracks as a footpath between stations, and needless risk taking.”

In the last decade, 97 pedestrians have died while trespassing on railway tracks, instead of using the proper walkways and crossings.

“We have too many avoidable tragedies on our rail network, so I’m urging everyone to remember this year’s Rail Safety Week theme ‘use your brain, tracks are for trains’.

If you happen to be enfeebled in the brains department, of course (and this is unlikely to apply to any of Alf’s constituents), you are unlikely to get the message.

But taxpayers will be spending big bucks trying to keep you alive despite your lemming-like urge to have yourself wiped out by a train.

The media statement says –

The Government contributes up to $1 million per year to upgrade level crossings with warning lights, bells, and barriers. This is made up of $500,000 from the Crown and $500,000 from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Simon then goes on to state the obvious.

“Of course there is only so much the Government can do. It is everyone’s responsibility to take time and care in making decisions around train tracks and stations. As we continue to see, this can make the difference between life and death.”

For what it’s worth, Rail Safety Week runs from 13 to 19 August and is coordinated by KiwiRail and the Chris Cairns Foundation.

Alf was fascinated to learn (here) it was formerly known as National Rail Safety Week and is an annual Australasian event. Across the ditch, it is organised by the Australian Rail Association.

Presumably we don’t call it National Rail Safety Week any more because we no longer have a nation-wide rail system.

Maybe the thrill-seekers and dullards should be obliged to move to bits of the country where we don’t have trains any more.

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