Sunday 19th Nov, 2017

Aussie film highlights impact of fatalities on train drivers

Still from 'The Driver'. Photo: Tim Russell
Photo: Tim Russell

A short film from Australian filmmaker Tim Russell aims to highlight the hidden victims of railway fatalities: train drivers.

‘The Driver’, which will premier this weekend at the Flickerfest International Film Festival, is a seven-minute short about a driver who returns to work after time off from encountering a rail fatality.

“Most train drivers will experience a fatality in their careers,” Russell says. “It’s not a case of if, it’s a case of when.”

According to TrackSAFE figures, there are more than 4000 near hits and collisions across Australia every year resulting from railway trespass incidents, and an estimated 150 suicide deaths.

“The driver is powerless to prevent the incident and forced to watch the horror unfold in front of them,” Russell explains.

Gary Tower is a retired driver who experienced rail fatalities during his forty-year career.

“It’s a harrowing experience that you never forget,” Tower says. “Some drivers aren’t able to return to work. If creating a film like this can raise awareness and save just one life, then it’s been worth it.”

Russell, who wrote and directed ‘The Driver’, spent time with train drivers in suburban Sydney during his research for the film.

“What really struck me was their camaraderie and the support they gave each other in a time of need,” he says. “The drivers are usually forgotten and I hope the film can shine a light on their lives.”

‘The Driver’ was developed as part of Metro Screen’s Breaks Program, and also received funding from Screen NSW. A trailer for the film can be viewed here.

The film will premier during a selection of Australian short films, at 8.45pm in the outdoor amphitheatre at Sydney’s Bondi Beach. Click here for more information.

  • Michael ONeill

    What about Sydney / Brisbane Passenger Train Guards? As a retired Passenger Train Guard suffers many effects of these tragic incidents as in some cases have to investigate an incident at first moments to report the situation to Network Control. As I have experienced a fatality plus called to relieve Train Crew members to ascertain condition of effected Train Crew members. So Guards do suffer same effects if not more issues. I know of cases where Train Crew members have actually taken their own life as result of deep sitted effects.

    • John Powers

      Maybe you should do your own video Michael highlighting the problem..?

      • Michael ONeill

        Thanks for your response to my comments in relation to Train Drivers who experience fatalities during their Railway Careers. I would if I knew where to start & plus what equipment & software is needed. As I only communicate with miniumal close former Rail workers as I now reside in another state now due to family commitments & psychology issues.

  • John Powers

    I was speaking to an ex Indian railways driver who was working on the platforms at Flinders st. some years ago.
    He said matter of factly that he had killed over 50 people in India as a driver. If they were killed they would put them on the train (if possible) and take them off at the next station . If alive they would report the matter at the next station.


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