Plea to make crossing safer

By kelli.hooks@age.co.nz, Kelli Hooks


The death of a 15-year-old girl at Wiltons Rd railway crossing has people living nearby asking how many others will die before it's made safer.

The crossing has been the scene of two fatalities in 11 years, but KiwiRail has no plans for an upgrade.

Carterton schoolgirl Grace Ellen Diedrichs is the second person the crossing has claimed. Miss Diedrichs died when the ute she was a passenger in collided with a commuter train on February 17.

In 2002 Carterton man Daniel Quin died when his ute drove into a train.

Daniel's parents, Christine and Graeme Quin, have been lobbying for the crossing to be upgraded ever since.

"In the police report [after Daniel's crash] it indicated that there should be more safety on the crossing and that's 11 years ago, now there's been another death," Mrs Quin said.

"If they put lights, bells, arms even ripple strips to give a bit more warning I know that would save lives."

Mrs Quin wants to stop others from facing the same grief her family has experienced.

"It's nearly 11 years since our son died and it's just as heart- breaking as the day it happened.

"I'd do anything to stop anyone else having to go through this," she said.

Mrs Quin is terrified of the crossing and said she worries herself sick when her daughters have to drive across it.

Her husband has even offered to help pay for a safety upgrade but got no response. Mrs Quin said the two fatal crashes were almost identical, both had brake marks indicating the drivers saw the train before hitting it.

"I know there's people out there that say how can you hit a train but it's just one of those things," Mrs Quin said.

"We're just human sometimes, you make that little mistake.

"Railways have just got to make allowances for human error. You can't put a cost on human life."

Justine Redfern-Olsen, previously a Wiltons Rd resident also wants to see the crossing upgraded.

Mrs Redfern-Olsen began campaigning before Daniel Quin was killed after a near-miss.

"I just didn't see the train," she said.

As well as two deaths, she said there have been about five other crashes.

"How many people does it take to get hurt or killed before they're going to do something about that crossing?" Mrs Redfern-Olsen asked.

KiwiRail said the uncontrolled crossing, protected by stop and railway crossing sign combinations, was not on their upgrade priority list because traffic volumes are too low.

"The crossing carries an estimated fewer than 170 vehicles per day, which equates to less than 65 per cent of the traffic necessary to justify the installation of flashing lights and bell alarms," KiwiRail senior communications adviser Sarah Pomeroy said.

However, she said, KiwiRail would be reviewing the crossing's risk rating by looking at the collision history and any recent changes in traffic.

- WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

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