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Nelson heritage railway gets the safety nod at FRONZ awards


A risk-based approach by the Nelson Railway Society to developing and constructing a new section of line for its operations has earned it the Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Tourist and Heritage Rail Safety Award for 2021.

The award has been presented at the Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand (FRONZ) annual conference for the last five years, and the Nelson Railway Society received the nod for this year’s award on Sunday night. 

Waka Kotahi Senior Manager Safer Rail, Neil Adams, says the society identified potential risks to its equipment, its members and the public and took the initiative to develop a programme of work to address these risks. 

“Nelson Railway Society has demonstrated the application of the principles of risk management to a major project,” Mr Adams says. 

Among the risks identified were a gradient and a curve on the existing line that was causing wear and tear, safety hazards for pedestrians and cyclists using public pathways to cross the rail lines, the need for the train to reverse into a public park for another attempt at making its way up the gradient, and hazards for staff involved in the construction of the new line. 

“Thanks to the society’s approach, a clearer view is now possible for train drivers as they approach the cycleway/pedestrian level crossing, and the visual awareness for the cycle and walkway users is also improved.” 

In arriving at its decision, the judges considered how each organisation presented its submission in accordance with the award criteria, including the quality of the research, the evidence supplied to support the initiative, the attention to detail and how each organisation measured its outcome. 

“It’s really pleasing to see a number of the organisations in the tourist and heritage sector putting forward quality entries to support the safety-conscious approach they took to their projects. These approaches lead to safer operations not only for their visitors but for those hard-working members who keep railways like the Nelson Railway Society going,” Mr Adams says.

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