Insufficient protection at the bottom of a platform ramp allowed a pedestrian – who was distracted by his mobile phone – to be fatally hit when he walked out in front of a passenger train in West Auckland last year, the New Zealand transport safety commission has found.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) has just published its findings into a pedestrian fatality at Morningside Drive level crossing in West Auckland on January 29, 2015.
Morningside Station in Auckland consists of an ‘island platform’ where the northbound and southbound rail tracks pass either side of the platform.
At one end of the platform pedestrians have to walk down a fenced ramp to join the Morningside Drive road level crossing.
At 6:40pm on the day in question, a passenger alighted from a train at Morningside Station, and walked alone along the station platform to an electronic fare-payment device, where he recorded the end of his journey, TAIC reported.
The train from which he had just alighted departed the station. Meanwhile, another train travelling in 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.
TAIC found the train was being driven at below the maximum line speed and that the barriers and warning devices for the adjacent Morningside Drive road level crossing were working correctly.
But, the Commission said, there was insufficient protection at the bottom of the platform ramp to prevent pedestrians inadvertently walking out in front of trains.
TAIC also believes 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.
Early on in its inquiry, TAIC made three urgent recommendations to the chief executive of the NZ Transport Agency, to:
- upgrade the protection arrangements for pedestrians exiting the station platform onto the pedestrian level crossing at Morningside Station
- clarify who is responsible for controlling and protecting pedestrians as they cross the boundaries between railway stations and the rail corridor in the Auckland metro network
- review all pedestrian level crossings in the Auckland metro network and ensure that they have a level of protection commensurate with the level of risk currently and in the immediate future
TAIC later made a fourth recommendation, that the NZ Transport Agency, KiwiRail and road controlling authorities work together to address the safety issue whereby currently many pedestrian level crossings located in provincial areas do not meet the guidelines laid down by the NZ Transport Agency.
“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,” TAIC added.
“Rail operators and providers of rail infrastructure must factor this into their risk assessments when designing safety into rail infrastructure.”