Both the local community and train operators have welcomed recent safety renovations at a dangerous Wellington level crossing. At the Redwood Station crossing in Tawa our Spartan fencing panel provided the perfect solution for a potentially deadly situation.
The design specifications and tough durability of the Spartan panel meet the needs of many different types of fencing around road, rail and other areas.
At Urban Group we are supplying a lot of this fencing panel around New Zealand, the design being part of the rail network landscape for approximately 50 years now due to its safety features and rugged construction.
In Tawa the Spartan panel was installed as part of a bigger safety project. It was sorely needed too – according to KiwiRail there have been nearly 40 near-misses in the area over the last 10 years.
‘Design Guidance for Pedestrian & Cycle Rail Crossings’ has been developed for the NZ Transport Agency and KiwiRail – it’s a comprehensive document that shows the ways in which pedestrians and cyclists behaviour can be changed for the better. The standards for fencing in this document are:
“Secure fencing near crossings is an important component of keeping people out of the rail corridor other than at designated crossing points. KiwiRail requires a 1.2-1.8m high mesh fence between a pathway and the rail corridor (refer KiwiRail 2015). A sturdier design (e.g. all vertical bars, such as a palisade fence) should be considered where trespassing or vandalism is common or expected.”
It’s important to get right. While accidents at level crossings are rare (when compared to on the road) the consequences of these events are generally far more serious:
“For the period of 2000 to 2015, over 60% of all recorded pedestrian and cycle collisions at rail level crossings resulted in a fatality. This proportion is much higher than for road crashes – data from the Ministry of Transport factsheets show that only 3% of pedestrian and cycle crashes on the road network result in fatality.”
The design guidelines developed by Kiwirail states that such a layout acts as ‘physical calming’, where “the passive protection using chicane or maze layouts on approaches. It’s this design that is particularly useful for cyclists, who have to slow down on their approach before reaching the crossing.
At the Redwood Station crossing this chicane style fencing is joined with automatic pedestrian gates to help prevent distracted pedestrians from crossing the tracks when a train is approaching.
While these safety features are a big help there’s nothing better than good old look-both-ways common sense at level crossings. It’s better to look up from the phone and slow down than step out and hope the train can swerve out of the way in time.