VIDEO: Rattler safety experts say 'stay off the tracks'
IT'S NOT quite as scary as the famous train scene in Stand By Me, but the Mary Valley Rattler's recent return to Gympie region rail corridors warrants a warning just the same.
With unscheduled trips running specifically for driver training after Gympie Regional Council announced its infrastructure handover last Friday, safety experts and Rattler directors have cautioned drivers and pedestrians to pay attention.
"People need to exercise caution around level crossings, not to be on the track and consider that there is a train running,” Mary Valley Rattler safety and training coordinator Julia Avis said.
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"It's a fairly unique situation to have a rail line shut for six years. Kids that are now in their first year of school weren't born when we last ran, so you could have preppies going to school and they've never seen a train on this line.
"It really is a huge awareness thing that needs to happen around the rail line. People were also used to Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday operations, they were used to timetables, and that's really changed now ... because sometimes we're running slow and each driver's getting used to the line.”
"We've got a period of driver training now where the train could pass at any time.”
The iconic locomotive will only pass through town at a maximum of 25km/h, and even slower during training runs, but Ms Avis said "that doesn't mean people can't get it wrong”.
She said improved measures had been taken to ensure all community members were put on alert, such as installing message boards and flashing lights at the Red Hill Rd and Brisbane Rd line crossings.
Safety visits to local schools containing "nationally accredited programs” were also in the pipeline.
"We really need to get people used to the signage, there's always that element of people living under a rock,” Ms Avis said.
"No matter how many times we've relayed the message, you always worry about the percentage of people who don't realise.
"In towns, a rail track is generally the quickest way from A to B, so it's understandable people have been using it, but that entire culture needs to change now.
While there had been no "reportable near misses” had yet to occur during driver training programs, board director and head trainer Adrian Hurley said crews had recently warned kids seen playing on the Deep Creek Bridge.