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Railway safety can save lives

Written by Silusapho Nyanda

Whether you are a train passenger, a pedestrian or a vehicle driver, it’s important to be aware of the dangers that lurk near railway stations and train tracks.

Countless lives are needlessly lost in railway-related incidents because people do not know or adhere to railway safety rules.

Metrorail urges commuters not to climb on top of moving trains to ‘train surf’. Besides the danger of falling off, train surfers can also be electrocuted by power cables.

Passengers should also not get on or off a moving train and should close the door once they are inside.

Pedestrian railway bridges should be used at all times and people must not walk across railway lines. It’s also important to stand behind the yellow line on train station platforms so that you do not get hit by an oncoming train.

South Africa has over 7 500 level train crossings and Arrive Alive has warned vehicle drivers to be alert when they are near them.

In 2008, there were 13 fatalities in 129 incidents at level crossings under Transnet’s control. While infrastructure improvements continue to reduce risks, drivers, bicycle riders and pedestrians need to be careful and obey road rules.

Metrorail warned that trains are not required by law to slow down when approaching level crossings. Adding that trains take a long time to come to a halt which makes stopping at a level crossings difficult.

As it’s normal for people’s stress level to increase when they are at a level crossing, it’s common for inexperienced drivers to have driving difficulties, such as changing gears, which can make them stall the car.

As modern trains do not make a lot of noise, Arrive Alive has also urged people crossing tracks to not wear earphones. "Make sure you can hear the sounds of oncoming trains. Using earphones, nearby loud music and screaming children all make crossing a railway line more dangerous,” Arrive Alive said.

Other important safety tips to remember are that trains always have the right of way, even before ambulances, fire engines and police cars; don’t assume that once a train has passed, all rail tracks are clear – another train may be approaching from the opposite direction; and always ensure that children do not play on or near railway lines. 

For enquiries about Metrorail logon to www.metrorail.co.za or call 0711 773 1600