For the nearly two million Australian’s traveling on trains everyday, it’s a very common occurrence: a delay. But what might surprise commuters is nearly every day, somewhere in Australia, the delay is caused by a rail fatality. There are far reaching consequences not only for the casualty and their families but also for a more hidden victim: the train drivers themselves.
A new short film, The Driver, premiering this weekend at the Flickerfest International Film Festival, tells the story of a train driver coping with life after encountering a rail fatality. “Most train driver’s will experience a fatality in their careers; it’s not a case of if, it’s a case of when,” says the film’s writer and director Tim Russell. “The driver is powerless to prevent the incident and forced to watch the horror unfold in front of them.”
There are over 4000 near hits and collisions across Australia every year resulting from railway trespass and an estimated 150 suicide deaths.
Gary Tower is a veteran train driver and encountered rail fatalities in his forty-year career. “It’s a harrowing experience that you never forget. Some drivers aren’t able to return to work.” Tower is now retired and is a big supporter of the film. “If creating a film like this can raise awareness and save just one life, then it’s been worth it.”
Russell spent time with train drivers in suburban Sydney during his research for the film. “What really struck me was their camaraderie and the support they gave each other in a time of need.” He hopes the film will raise awareness for rail fatalities and the struggles of train drivers. “The drivers are usually forgotten and I hope the film can shine a light on their lives.”
The Driver will have its World Premiere at Flickerfest International Film Festival this weekend Saturday 9 January as part of the Australian Showcase. The film was developed as part of Metro Screen’s Breaks Program with funding from Screen NSW.