A cross-generational effort is under way to change unsafe behaviour around trains, harnessing the wisdom of experienced rail staff alongside the curiosity of children playing the video game Minecraft.

During Rail Safety Week (August 7-13) and in regional NSW there has been a focus on safety around level crossings with everyone – motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and those on mobility scooters – reminded to watch out for trains and expect the unexpected.

Each year on the NSW rail network there are, on average, about 43 recorded deaths and injuries, 245 near-misses with trespassers and 130 near-misses at level crossings. NSW has more than 1300 level crossings on public roads.

Anthony Healey, a NSW TrainLink driver with more than 30 years’ experience, wants people to consider the impact of their decision to enter a level crossing when a train is coming.

“People think they’re taking a shortcut when it could be the worst decision that they ever make. If you get hit by a train, you don’t really get a second chance,” Mr Healey said.

“You think about all of the very close misses or the actual strikes that you’ve had through your career. It has a big a flow-on effect.

“Those people either taking shortcuts or trying to rush across the railway line give no thought, no respect to the people they’re potentially affecting.”

NSW TrainLink senior customer attendant Luke Tate said it was not uncommon to see people trespassing in the rail corridor, which was disturbing for staff and any onlookers to witness.

“Whenever I’ve seen that sort of behaviour, it’s like you feel a sense of hopelessness; everything basically slows down and is happening in slow motion,” Mr Tate said.

“With that train bearing down on that person that’s trespassing, or going across a crossing when they shouldn’t be, that train just can’t stop. A lot of people don’t understand that it can take around the length of 14 football fields for a train to stop.”

Throughout this week, regional rail stations across NSW will have posters and station announcements to encourage safe behaviour around trains and on platforms, including to mind the gap, stand back and to hold on to handrails.

In another Rail Safety Week initiative, school students across NSW will be able to play a Minecraft game that allows them to explore potential risks around level crossings.

The ‘Level Up’ game, developed by Transport for NSW, is designed to help children consider how to communicate the need for caution around crossings.

It is set in a virtual rural environment and features built-in safety messages. Unsafe behaviours trigger a stern warning from a train driver, while an engineer guides students to build a safer level crossing. 

Following a successful pilot of ‘Level Up’ in schools last year, the game has been rolled out across NSW as part of the wider effort to change behaviour around trains. 

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