James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

'Tragic' death at railway crossing

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A fatal collision between a truck and train today was a tragic reminder of the risks and care that motorists needed to take around railway crossings, according to a rail safety group

A 28-year-old truck driver died following the collision between his truck and a passenger train at a level crossing on Te Onetea Rd near Rangiriri at about 9.45am.

Inspector Freda Grace said several investigations are now underway.

"It's tragic, not just for his family, but for his co-workers and those working close by."

Inspector Grace said it was premature to comment on the cause of the accident.

"However, what we can say is the crash was between an articulated low loader and a passenger train."

There were 108 passengers on board the train at the time of the collision.

KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn said there were no barrier arms or signals at the level crossing where the accident occurred.

He said none of the 108 passengers on board were injured and Victim Support were offering counseling to those who needed it, including the driver of the train.

The passengers left on another locomotive about 1.30pm.

In the past year alone there have been 23 recorded incidents of near collisions with heavy vehicles.

"All level crossing collisions are traumatic for everyone, and our thoughts are with all those involved as well as the families of those affected, and the driver of the train,'' said TrackSAFE NZ foundation manager Megan Drayton.

Earlier in the year TrackSAFE reminded motorists of the care needed around level crossings, following a spate of near collisions.

"In the past year alone there have been 23 recorded incidents of near collisions with heavy vehicles,'' says Ms Drayton.

Two of these incidents involved petrol tankers almost driving into trains.

"We would really urge all motorists, and particularly heavy vehicle users, to obey the signs and signals at level crossings, and to always ensure the railway line is clear of trains before proceeding across the crossing.

TrackSAFE NZ is a rail safety charity that aims to raise awareness about safety around the railway. It was previously known as the Chris Cairns Foundation, before it amalgamated with Australian harm prevention charity TrackSAFE in October last year.


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