School's train safety video a winner

A rap song about train safety by Dunedin pupils is being celebrated in association with the launch of a national awareness campaign.

Associate Transport Minister and Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse launched the Train Brain campaign at St Bernadette's School with representatives from KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ yesterday.

The school won a national rail safety video competition for primary school children, after submitting a rap song performed by year 6 pupils Madison D'Arcy, Emily Kerr-Bell, Ona Fraser and Rosaberry Vaughan.

The 11-year-olds performed the rap, written in collaboration with classmates, for Mr Woodhouse, guests and fellow pupils at the school yesterday.

''Come on guys get train wise. Use your train brain,'' they rapped.

Not even Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt could outrun a train, the children said.

''We wrote it as a class. Each person made up a couple of sentences they thought would go well in it, and we put them together. Then we used the green screen in the hall to film it, and it was edited to look like we were on the [rail] track,'' Emily said.

Mr Woodhouse applauded the ''fantastic'' rap video, and explained why train safety was so important.

He said trains went through level crossings 15,000 times every day in New Zealand, and anyone crossing train tracks or walking nearby was responsible for their own safety, as drivers were unable to stop suddenly or divert trains.

If you were to come into contact with a train the result would be really, really bad,'' he told the children.

KiwiRail chief executive and TrackSAFE NZ chairman Jim Quinn said there were 245 reported cases of trespass on the rail network and 145 ''near misses'' at level crossings to date this year.

''There has also been a small increase in the number of collisions at level crossings so far this year and we are pleading with the public to please stop taking risks with trains,'' he said.

Three of the 18 collisions involving vehicles at level crossings were fatal.

Trespass included people walking across or jumping off rail bridges, crossing tracks anywhere other than at level crossings, and walking along the rail line.

Mr Quinn said he was particularly worried about children playing near train tracks during the summer holidays.

There also tended to be more vehicle collisions with trains as Christmas approached and people travelled for holidays, he said.

rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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