April fools dwell on the edge

On the edge of Westall rail station platform, a male student stands backwards with his hands in his pockets. A female sits with her legs over the tracks.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

It’s after school at Westall railway station on 1 April, but no joking matter.

CCTV footage from Metro Trains shows a male student commuter nonchalantly strolling beyond the yellow safety line.

Hands in his pockets, he stands with his heels on the white-painted platform edge. His toes flirting with the dangerous space over the tracks.

A female student sits down beside him, either sucking on a lollypop or smoking. Her legs are over the platform edge, in the danger zone.

The male walks away, and returns. At one point, he stands casually on the edge, this time backwards to the tracks.

His heels and backpack are beyond solid ground.

Meanwhile, another student is riding a scooter along the platform.

With students largely returned to school, the State Government and Metro Trains have issued a reminder on rail safety.

There are serious consequences when dicing with train safety, Metro community education officer Kelli Williams says.

“Trains are 140 metres long, weigh as much as 250 cars, and can’t swerve or stop quickly – so there can be serious consequences if young people take risks.

“We ask students to please look out for one another and speak to staff if they need help.”

Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne added that there was “no excuse for risk-taking behaviour”.

“Every school student returning to the classroom this week needs to take responsibility for their own safety.”

Despite the bullet-proof attitudes of youth, there are more than 230 rail safety incidents involving students in Melbourne each year.

In Term 1, there were 43.

The most common causes are phone and headphone distraction, children rushing for trains, forcing up train doors, illegally crossing the tracks, and riding skateboards or scooters on platforms.

Metro Trains runs an annual program of classroom visits, offering sage advice such as putting away your phone, taking your headphones out and carrying your scooter or skateboard.

It engages with about 350 schools a year. Virtual lessons have been run during the Covid-19 pandemic.