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'How lucky they were' - mum joins calls for rail crossing safety after son nearly killed

A woman whose son was nearly hit by a train has joined authorities in warning people to look for trains before they cross the tracks.

KiwiRail and TrackSAFE have released videos in an effort to reduce the number of incidents.

In the 12 months to June there were 300 near misses and 18 collisions. Trains nearly hit 89 people, 171 light road vehicles like cars and motorbikes and 39 heavy vehicles like trucks. 

People walking, or driving cars and trucks were distracted and didn't see the oncoming train. 

Locomotive engineer Jeremy Jefferies says by the time the train driver sees them, it's generally too late. 

"I can't swerve for them, I haven't got a steering wheel. All I can do, on the horn, breaks into emergency and hope they get out of my way," he said. 

Anna Scott nearly lost her son in 2016 and is thankful the train driver acted. 

"They blasted the horn and the boys got off the track really quickly. And I'm so grateful for that," she said. 

Her son was coming home from school when the train nearly hit him. He'd been happily chatting to a friend. 

"They crossed. They were on the tracks when the northbound train came through. When I saw the footage it really blew home how close, how lucky they were," she said.

KiwiRail CEO Greg Miller has a message for people crossing railway tracks as a new safety awareness campaign is launched.

"It's about awareness. It's about educating our youth that headphones in, hoodies on, hats on, running across, driving across, biking across railway crossings is a seriously dangerous thing to do," he said. 

I've had some near misses where it's taken me quite some time to calm down from it. - Jeremy Jefferies, locomotive engineer

As the safety campaign is launched, the Transport Ministry has announced 15 more pedestrian gates will be installed on south and west Auckland train lines by mid-2020. 

The city had the highest number of incidents in the past year - 84.  Wellington was next at 50 and Canterbury had 42. 

The almost daily near-misses leave train drivers shellshocked.

"It's a form of shock, you know. I've had some near misses where it's taken me quite some time to calm down from it. I've actually stopped my train and I've sat there for a little while and gathered myself before I move off again," Mr Jefferies said.

Train drivers are pleading with the public to take responsibility for their lives when crossing the tracks. 

"You wouldn't cross a road without looking both ways. And it's exactly the same for a railway track," Mr Jefferies said.

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Anna Scott says it wasn't until she saw footage of her son's incident that she realised how close he came to death. Source: 1 NEWS