New rail security fencing set to save lives

New fencing is expected to not only improve safety but also help save lives. WORK has begun on installing additional security fencing on the Sydney Trains network to prevent trespassing and reduce self-harm incidents in the rail corridor.

Transport minister Andrew Constance said the $4.5 million of new fencing was being installed across 2.3 kilometres of the rail corridor by the end of 2021.

“This new fencing will not only improve safety and stop people accessing the rail network illegally, it will also help save lives,” Constance said.

“Tragically, 16 people lost their lives on the NSW rail network last year. There were also 155 near misses and 54 people injured from trespassing or entering the Sydney Trains rail corridor.”

Mental health minister Bronnie Taylor said any suicide was a tragedy with profound community impacts.

“We know that when we erect physical barriers in identified suicide ‘hot spots’, it significantly reduces the immediate risk to that individual’s life,” Taylor said.

“I encourage anyone who is having suicidal thoughts to seek help, or talk to a trusted friend about their feelings immediately.”

Sydney Trains acting chief executive Pete Church said while most of the Sydney Trains network was already fenced, there were locations where people had been able to access the rail corridor.

“When people trespass in the rail corridor, they not only risk their life, but their actions can have a long lasting impact for their friends and family, as well as our customers and staff,” Church said.

TrackSAFE executive director Heather Neil said they worked closely with Sydney Trains to raise awareness of rail safety issues, and reduce near misses.

“Reducing accessibility to train lines through the installation of fences and other physical barriers is known to be a successful method of reducing trespass and self-harm incidents,” Neil said.

There were more than 2,600 trespassing incidents on the network, including nine people caught train surfing, in the 2019-20 financial year. The minimum fine for trespassing is $400 but can be as high as $5,500.

Other Sydney Trains initiatives to prevent trespassing and self-harm incidents include:

  • Training for frontline staff to help them recognise the warning signs for suicide.
  • Emergency help points on every platform, which are directly linked to trained security operators 24 hours a day.
  • More than 12,000 CCTV cameras monitoring the network, including high-definition cameras with stronger capabilities to identify trespassers.

If this article has raised issues for you, please consider calling one of the following entities:

  • Lifeline 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
  • NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511

Keolis Downer Adelaide to boost employee wellbeing

THE operator of Adelaide Metro train services, Keolis Downer, has committed to training local frontline staff in Mental Health First Aid, in a bid to drive recognition and support for mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

The commitment coincided with Rail R U OK? Day on Thursday 29 April, which encourages rail employees to check-in on each other.

Managing director of Keolis Downer Adelaide, Robert Tatton-Jones, said the company is committed to supporting the mental and physical wellbeing of its employees across Adelaide’s rail network.

“By participating in Rail R U OK? Day and training our staff in Mental Health First Aid, we’re aiming to provide a stronger, safer and more supportive workplace environment,” Tatton-Jones said.

“Some of our customer experience team leaders and driver managers, will complete a Mental Health First Aid Training Course, to upskill and develop an in-depth understanding of mental health problems in the workplace.

“We’re encouraging meaningful conversations within the rail industry, no matter what your role and to look after each other even further, by asking, – Are You Okay?”

Health, safety, quality and environment director of Keolis Downer Adelaide, Sandra Wilson-Ryke, knows firsthand the heartbreak of losing her best friend and younger brother Scott to a mental illness, two years ago.

“My heart remains heavy with sadness and there isn’t a day that goes by when I am not thinking about Scott – he was only 49 years old,” Sandra said.

Adelaide-born Scott Wilson was a well-known advocate for men’s health and mental health, and as an entrepreneur, had a successful international events career.

“Scott seemed to have it all. A loving partner, a career that enabled him to travel all over the world and financial freedom. His death came as a real shock to our entire family.

“I am very proud to work at Keolis Downer Adelaide and participate in Rail R U OK? Day and have Mental Health First Aiders as part of our team, who are specifically trained to support us.

“It gives you the confidence to check-in on others, even if there are no obvious signs that they are doing it tough.

“Life can be challenging for us all, whether it’s dealing with anxiety, depression, relationship breakdowns or trying to overcome the stress of a trauma.”

R U OK? has four simple steps to start a conversation: Ask, Listen, Encourage action and Check-in.

The rail industry’s harm prevention charity, the TrackSAFE Foundation, says rail workers often face various challenges at work and may be exposed to traumatic incidents.

The Foundation’s executive director, Heather Neil, said they were thrilled to have Keolis Downer Adelaide onboard, and also recognise the importance of Mental Health First Aid Training for frontline staff.

“Following the challenges of the last 12 months, there’s never been a more important time to connect and regularly check-in with those around us. The TrackSAFE Foundation encourages rail employees to support and engage with one another, and during our busy working days, take the time to listen to one another,” she said.

“Rail R U OK? is more than just a day, it’s a movement that aims to empower rail workers to identify the signs that someone might not be OK and offer guidance on how to listen and also how to help.”

Keolis Downer recognises the importance of ensuring the mental health and wellbeing of all employees and has close to 50 Mental Health First Aiders working across its network at Yarra Trams in Melbourne, on the Gold Coast and in Newcastle.

ARA throws its support behind Rail R U OK?Day

The Rail R U OK? Day is being marked around the country.

The Australasian Railway Association has given its public support to Rail R U OK?Day events held across the country recently.

ARA chief executive Caroline Wilkie said Rail R U OK?Day provided a timely reminder of the importance of wellbeing at work.

“Rail R U OK?Day is now in its seventh year and is going from strength to strength, with more than 110 organisations across Australia and New Zealand taking part in 2021,” Wilkie said.

“The ARA team will be meeting with members as they host a range of events to highlight the importance of checking in with your workmates to make sure they are OK.

“We will be joining virtual meet ups, morning teas, information sessions and more across the country to recognise the value of peer-to-peer support when we go through difficult times.”

Wilkie said the increasing number of people taking part reflected the industry’s commitment to its people.

Rail industry workers were encouraged to follow that train of thought and keep the conversation moving if someone says they are not OK.

Participants were also be provided with simple steps to support an R U OK? conversation as part of the day’s events.

“We have a real opportunity to make a difference when we recognise someone at work might not be OK,” Wilkie said.

“Today’s events provide an opportunity to share advice on how to make those conversations count so we are prepared to support each other when we turn up to work each day.

“Days like Rail R U OK? also highlight the important role the TrackSAFE Foundation plays in promoting mental health and wellbeing in the rail sector.”

Rail R U OK?Day is a join initiative of the TrackSAFE Foundation and R U OK? and is the only industry specific R U OK? day of action.

Major rail line reopened post-incident

An important rail line in northern New South Wales is again operating

The Australian Rail Track Corporation says the rail line at Nana Glen has been reopened following the derailment of a freight train on Thursday 25 February.

Services resumed from Saturday 6 March at about 8:30pm, under a temporary a speed restriction.

Repairs to the rail line at Nana Glen involved re-building approximately 300 metres of track that was damaged, while working in a difficult worksite through persistent weather challenges.

“We would like to thank the community and our customers for their continued patience and understanding while the repair effort was being undertaken,” an ARTC spokesperson said.

“We would also like to acknowledge the ARTC team and contractors on the ground for their efforts to return the line to operations.

“The interstate line at Nana Glen is critical to domestic and export supply chains, as well as passenger rail in New South Wales.”

According to the ARTC, some 1500 tonnes of ballast from local quarries around Coffs Harbour were brought on to the site.

About 800 metres of rail was transported by train from Port Augusta in South Australia while 600 sleepers from Grafton have been transported to the derailment site ready to be laid.