Police crack down on people running in front of Illawarra trains

Security footage of a man's near miss with an oncoming train at Woonona.
Security footage of a man's near miss with an oncoming train at Woonona.

People taking their lives into their own hands by running in front of trains at level crossings in the Illawarra are being targeted by officers from the Police Transport Command.

There are at least seven level crossings in the Illawarra, a region that has had problems with people ignoring boomgates and flashing lights to try their luck at getting to the other side.

"I don’t think people realise they’re actually putting their lives in danger."

In 2014, NSW TrainLink figures showed the level crossing at Bellambi was the equal worst in the regional rail network when it came to people ducking under the boomgate and darting across the lines.

Rail staff reported eight instances of it happening at Bellambi that year, while it happened at least four times at other level crossings in the Illawarra.

In August last year, alarming footage was released of a man at Woonona station darting in front of an oncoming train to get to the other side.

If he had tripped over, he would have ended up under the train.

That station still has a high level of people trespassing across the tracks, according to Chief Inspector Craig James, who oversees the Police Transport Command (PTC) activities in the Illawarra.

“Historically, this is a location that we patrol regularly based on intelligence we receive both through NSW Police and NSW Trains,” Insp James said.

“Anecdotally, it’s always had a high number of people trespassing. I don’t think people realise they’re actually putting their lives in danger.”

Don't cross: Police Transport Command members Constable Kim Smith, Senior Constable David Bott and Detective Sergeant Darryl Smith at Woonona train station. Picture: Anna Warr

Don't cross: Police Transport Command members Constable Kim Smith, Senior Constable David Bott and Detective Sergeant Darryl Smith at Woonona train station. Picture: Anna Warr

As part of this week’s Rail Safety Week, Insp James wanted to make people aware that crossing tracks – or walking along them – is against the law.

“It’s about reminding commuters that they need to take responsibility for themselves around train lines and the rail corridor,” Insp James said.

“It’s also about reminding the community generally that if they enter the rail corridor they are committing an offence.

“From a Police Transport Command perspective it’s something that we can enforce and we do enforce.

“It’s not something we take lightly.”

In 2015 police charged more than 80 people and issued more than 240 infringements for trespassing on train lines.

Editorial: gaining a minute is not worth your life

You have to wonder at what might be so important in life to risk getting hit by a train. 

What makes a person want to face the consequence of possible death or serious injury rather than wait a minute or two while that train passes by.

Surely gaining a minute is not worth costing you your life.

Police Transport Command are targeting those people who take their lives into their own hands by running in front of trains.

The Illawarra has seven level crossings and NSW TrainLink figures have proved the level crossing at Bellambi is one of the worst in the state.

In 2014, rail staff reported eight instances of people willing to risk their lives at the Bellambi crossing.

“Anecdotally, it’s always had a high number of people trespassing,’’ Chief Inspector Craig James said.

“I don’t think people realise they’re actually putting their lives in danger.”

The innocent and often forgotten victims in all this is the train drivers.

Imagine having to confront the prospect of knowing each day someone might do something stupid and you might have to bear witness to the consequences.

It’s a horrible thought.

Perhaps those people that are willing to take that risk should perhaps think of the unintended consequences next time.

In Rail Safety Week, police are reminding the public it’s actually illegal.

“It’s also about reminding the community generally that if they enter the rail corridor they are committing an offence,” Insp James said.

This story Police crack down on people running in front of Illawarra trains first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.