Following the weekend rail shutdown, Kiwirail have now been able to complete and liven up the wires between Wiri and Newmarket (inlcuding Onehunga). As such they are now kicking into higher gear warnings about live wires across the network.
A safety campaign has been launched this week warning Aucklanders they won’t get a second chance if they get too close to the overhead wires which will power the city’s new electric trains.
The first of Auckland’s new electric trains has now arrived in Auckland. Over the coming months these will be tested around the network in preparation for train services in 2014.
The overhead wires are now live 24/7 and potentially deadly to anyone who may get too close or come into contact with them, says KiwiRail Project Management Office General Manager Murray Hood.
“As with ordinary power lines, the overhead power system on the rail network is built so that people doing ordinary things near them are perfectly safe,” said Mr Hood.
“Only reckless or mischievous behaviour poses a danger.
“Sadly, experience both here in New Zealand and overseas shows that some people ignore all safety advice and take risks with serious and usually fatal results.”
The overhead wires that will power the trains carry 25,000 volts, which is 100 times more powerful than that used in homes.
“You do not even need to touch these wires to be electrocuted – electricity this powerful can arc or jump across gaps so it is important to keep away and make sure anything you are carrying is also well clear,” said Mr Hood.
“So it is critical that the public must treat these lines as live and extremely dangerous at all times.”
An awareness campaign to get this message out has been developed by KiwiRail, Auckland Transport and Transdev – the three organisations which deliver commuter rail services in Auckland. Launched this week the campaign includes billboard, radio and newspaper advertising as well as a video available on YouTube and Facebook. A link to the video can be found on the KiwiRail website – www.kiwirail.co.nz.
“Transdev is tremendously excited about this new era for Auckland rail but it’s vitally important that everyone who travels on or near the train tracks heeds these important warnings about electrified overhead wires,” said Transdev’s Electrification Programme Lead Mike Yeoman.
“You can help us share the safety message. We encourage parents to talk to their children about staying well clear of the overhead wires and taking care around trains and stations, the rail network is no place to play.”
There have been several incidents on the electrified section of the North Island Main Trunk railway line that runs between Hamilton and Palmerston North in recent years.
“Invariably, these have all involved young men trespassing on the rail corridor and getting too close to the overhead wires. At best those that survived received serious burns,” said Mr Hood.
In 2003 a young male trespasser died after climbing on top of a stationary train in a freight yard in Hamilton. And in 2007 another trespasser received serious burns, again after trespassing in the same area.
The wires have meant the introduction of height restrictions at the 31 level crossings on Auckland roads within the electrified area. However, most road users will not be affected by these height restrictions, as most vehicles and loads would not exceed them.
Most level crossings will have a height restriction of five metres, however 11 crossings will be lower at 4.25 metres. Roadside signs will warn of the presence of wires and display the height restriction at each level crossing.
Motorists with loads exceeding the height restrictions will need to apply to KiwiRail for written permission to use a level crossing.
There is more info here.