Cars run crossing lights

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At least two to three cars are running the red lights each day at the Oamaru Steam and Rail’s Tyne St-Itchen St crossing and it’s only a matter of time before someone is hit.

The group’s general manager Harry Andrew gave this warning yesterday after cars ran lights at the crossing on Sunday.

“We’ll never kill anyone,” Mr Andrew said. “The train is only going 12km/h but we’ll just wreck their cars and they wouldn’t get any insurance.”

Mr Andrew said cars often drove through within five metres of the train as it crossed the road, ignoring warning signals.

“A couple of women went through and didn’t even look left or right. A woman heading north shot through and didn’t look. The train was five to 10 metres from her. I don’t think she even knew the train was there.”

He said most of the drivers involved were from outside Oamaru and were blase regarding railways.

Each time an incident occurred he took the driver’s car plate number and reported it to the NZ Transport Authority and police.

“They’re reported as soon as we do the paperwork.”

An Oamaru police spokesman spoken to yesterday said he was unaware of any incidents or that the crossing was an issue.

“He needs to come and see us if he feels there’s a problem,” he said.

Mr Andrew believed the people who ran the lights should be fined.

Meanwhile, the popular B10 steam train had its last run on Sunday for several months because of the need to repair a bearing.

“It’ll be a big job getting it stripped down and it’ll be out for two to three months,” Mr Andrew said.

“We don’t know how much (repairs) will cost.”

The steam train has proved a popular holiday attraction, with the number of passengers well up on last year.

“This summer, the number of tourists are up major,” Mr Andrew said.

“We’ve had lots of tourists from Europe, America, China and the Asian market. They love Oamaru and they love the train.”

Last Friday the steam train had 202 passengers, 197 on Saturday and 148 on Sunday.

During the next few months, with B10 out of action, a diesel train will be operating.

Mr Andrew said five people were required to help operate the train and volunteers were still required.

By CHRIS TOBIN