Clear point: Rail safety ambassador Jonathan Beninca, left, with train driver John Higgins talk safety around rails at Clontarf.BROOKFIELD Rail and Aurizon visited the Avon region last week to promote safe behaviour around the rail network as part of Rail Safety Week.
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Three visits covered the York District High School, Northam Clontarf Academy and Northam Senior High School last Wednes day.

Rail safety ambassador Jonathan Beninca suffered a traumatic rail incident when he was a teenager which left him in intensive care with the loss of his arm, leg and several fingers, changing his life forever.

“It is extremely important for people to understand the risks associated with taking a short cut across the railway or throwing rocks at trains,” Mr Beninca said.

“All too easily someone could make one wrong choice that will haunt them for the rest of their life.

“I was just 19 when I lost my right arm and leg after taking a short cut on the tracks and I believe every student needs to understand the consequences of my actions so they don’t make the same mistake I did.”

Train driver John Higgins spoke to students about the dangers of playing around railway lines.

“Trains swerve, and if you are hit, 99 per cent of the time it is fatal,” Mr Higgins said.

“A train driver has to go back and check the damage afterwards and while it doesn’t hurt the driver physically, the mental scarring does.”

As a result some train drivers give the job away or cannot go over a certain section of line again.

“Also throwing rocks at trains is dangerous. A few months ago a glass window was shattered and a piece landed in a driver’s eye,” Mr Higgins said.

“To the rock thrower it seems harmless, but this act nearly cost someone a job.”

Another speaker at the sessions was Rod Gibbs.

He has worked for Brookfield Rail for 19 years.

His job is to cover the rail network – about 340 kilometres of track.

“A lot of people wander the tracks,” Mr Gibbs said.

“A prospector moves at about 160km/h, and drivers need to see about 1000 metres ahead to stop.”

He re-iterated Mr Higgins’ point about hits almost always being fatal.

“We have cameras on our trains, and when reviewing the footage we will pick up extremely close calls, and I’m talking millimeters,” Mr Higgins said.

He said there were problems with people walking over the Avon River train bridge and people placing objects on the tracks.

“And people don’t stop at stop signs,” Mr Gibbs said.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of being safe around railway lines.”

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