KiwiRail Locomotive Engineer Mike Kilsby says level crossing collisions impact on the whole family of a train driver, including their partners and children.
“My father also drove trains and as a child I can remember him coming home from work after being involved in a fatal level crossing accident.
These incidents had a huge impact on him personally and the resulting stress and emotional trauma he suffered affected our whole family.”
Mike is one of three generations of locomotive engineers – as he follows in the footsteps of both his father and grandfather.
“My grandfather was involved in a fatal collision on his very first trip as a fireman on a steam locomotive,” Mike says.
“He was heading out of the Linwood depot in 1941 and his train hit a car, killing the two occupants. It was a tragic way for him to begin his job in the railways.”
Fortunately Mike has not been involved in any collisions, although he says he’s had a number of “very close calls”.
“People on the roads just need to take care and be aware of trains at level crossings at all times. We have right of way, we can’t swerve, and we can’t stop the train in a hurry.
While Mike says driving trains is in his blood, he will always live in the hope that he is never involved in a level crossing collision.
On 25 February 1976 the driver of a Manawatu Power Board truck was killed when his truck was stuck by a southbound goods train on the Hobson St level crossing in Feilding. The vehicle was completely destroyed. The train locomotive and 16 wagons were derailed in the accident and the main line was blocked for four days. (From the book " Danger Ahead " by Geoffrey B Churchman).
The driver of the locomotive was Mick Balfour (Mike Kilsby's grandfather ) and the Driver's Assistant was Jeff York. Both were not harmed in the incident. Mick Balfour retired five years after this collision.