Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Train death: Victim was using cell phone

Police at the Morningside train station in January, 2015, following the fatal accident. Photo / Chris Gorman
Police at the Morningside train station in January, 2015, following the fatal accident. Photo / Chris Gorman

A man who died when he was struck by a train had been using his cell phone at the time.

Tejas Patel, 24, was killed after getting off a passenger train at the Morningside Station, Auckland, last January.

A report released by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission today said after getting off his train, Patel walked onto a station platform to an electronic fare-payment device.

The report said at that particular station, there was an island-like platform; meaning there was a north-bound and south-bound railway track running on either side of it.

Tejas Patel was killed after getting off a train at the Morningside Station. Photo / Facebook
Tejas Patel was killed after getting off a train at the Morningside Station. Photo / Facebook

"At one end of the platform, pedestrians have to walk down a fenced ramp to join a pedestrian level crossing, which is part of the Morningside Drive road level crossing,'' the report said.

"At the bottom of the platform ramp, pedestrians have to turn either left or right to cross the relevant rail track.''

As Patel got off his train, another train coming from the opposite direction was approaching the station on the other track.

"The person walked down the platform ramp and turned right, passing through an unguarded opening, and stepped out in front of the approaching train. The train struck the person, who was fatally injured.

"The Commission also found that it was very likely that the pedestrian was distracted by the use of his mobile phone when he stepped out in front of the train."

At the time of his death, Patel's best friend, Pouria Asjhari, told the Herald he had been texting his friends minutes before the accident.

Patel was also known to listen to music on his cell phone on his daily commute.

Today's report said although the train involved had been travelling at minimum level speed and that the barriers and warning devices in the area were all working correctly when the accident occurred, there had been insufficient protection at the bottom of the platform ramp to prevent pedestrians inadvertently walking out in front of a train.

"A key lesson arising from the inquiry relates to the use of mobile devices by pedestrians, which has been found to make them less aware of hazards around them."

The Commission made a number of recommendations to the chief executive of the NZ Transport Agency, as a result of the accident.

Among those was the need of an upgrade of "protection arrangements'' for pedestrians exiting the Morningside Station platform onto the pedestrian level crossing.

There was also a need for relevant heads to take into account people being distracted by the use of an electronic device.

"Rail operators and providers of rail infrastructure must factor this into their risk assessments when designing safety into rail infrastructure."

- NZ Herald

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