Far too often, train driver Robert Zelvis has had to blow his whistle, apply the emergency brake and hope to God he doesn't hear that dreaded crunch of a body beneath him.
"The worst thing is when they do go under the train. It's the noises," the Flinders man said on Friday.
"The body rolling ... you know what I'm getting at.
"I do what I can, then I'm watching and hoping that they can get out of the way … at the last moment when I know they can't, I look away."
In 41 years, Mr Zelvis, the region's principal driver, has been involved in several fatalities and countless near misses.
He copes with the trauma by reminding himself he's not at fault, that he has followed procedure and done everything in his power to avoid a collision.
But his subconscious doesn't let things go so easily - his wife tells of the crying, screaming and shaking in his sleep.
Mr Zelvis, who is passionate about life on the railway, is sharing his story in the hope that people might think twice before taking a short cut through rail land or jumping across tracks to switch platforms in a hurry.
According to the Independent Transport Safety Regulator, NSW trains were involved in 325 fatalities over the past decade, of which 276 were due to trespass and 248 involved a train strike.
Other deaths resulted from circumstances including accidental falls, electrocution and suicide by means other than a strike.
That's an average of 28 fatal trespasses, and 25 strikes, a year.
Or, to put it another way: every 14 days, a NSW driver suffers the trauma of striking and killing someone.
"People see a train coming and they think, 'Oh I've got time to beat it, it's not going that fast'," Mr Zelvis said.
"But trains are like an aircraft. The bigger they are, the slower they seem to be until they are right on top of you."
Electric passenger trains power along Illawarra lines at up to 115km/h an hour.
Some diesel trains bound for Nowra can reach 140km/h.
"If I'm on a fast express train it can be doing 100km/h and in good weather conditions, you are looking at 500 or 600 metres before it can stop," Mr Zelvis said.
"To be able to stop in wet weather, it's an extra couple of hundred metres. There's nothing else you can do.
"On a freighter, if they are fully loaded they go at 80km/h and can take 1½ kilometres to stop, there's a lot of weight there, sometimes 4500 tonnes."
NSW Train Link, which is responsible for country and intercity services, is stepping up its campaign to stop people from trespassing in rail corridors.
Last year, police jumped on board, establishing a dedicated transport command unit to target dangerous behaviour.
Trespassers can be slapped with $5500 fines.
Last year, Bulli and Albion Park were among the worst 10 hot spots for rail trespassing in NSW.
Mr Zelvis isn't surprised.
"As drivers, we do cop the brunt of it. Guards too. At times, the guard is asked to go back and see if a person we've just hit is deceased.
"Emergency service people need to know who to send, whether the person still has a chance. I've been asked to do that, go out and have a look.
"Guards get involved and are affected as well. There are times when there are witnesses at level crossings."
Mr Zelvis recalls a near miss at Corrimal five or six years ago that shook him to the core.
"I've had a few since, but that was one of the worst I had," he said.
"I reported it straight away … by the time I got to Thirroul I was shaking like a leaf."
The father of three was confronted with his last fatality about four years ago.
"An old lady fell off the platform in front of the train out in the northern suburbs. I'm pretty lucky in a way - I've never hit a kid," he said.
"Kids would actually send me … I don't know, don't know how I would cope with that.
"The railways pay us to go see psychologists and give us time off, which helps.
"I deal with it by looking at all the incidents and see that the person has been at fault … if it was a kid, I don't know how I'd handle it."
There were 6460 reported cases of trespass in rail corridors across the state last year.
Authorities partially attribute the steady increase since 2009 to the diligence of rail crew and their reporting.
"We do get a fair few trespasses and we do get warned by other drivers," Mr Zelvis said.
"We contact signallers and they contact any other trains and warn them.
"Personally, I think it's reckless behaviour by them and they don't realise the damage that it does.
"I was having nightmares, I didn't know, my wife was saying I was yelling, screaming in my sleep.
"We have had drivers that have had a couple of bad things, they're reasonably young in their 40s and 50s, and that's it, they can't drive any more," Mr Zelvis said.
"The trauma is that horrific for them. That's another thing you've got to think of.
"I know a driver who not all that long ago had to finish up. There is no way he could get back in the driver's seat again."
Commuters should be warned that a split-second decision to cross might spell disaster, leaving train crews and emergency workers to pick up the pieces - sometimes literally.
"People don't realise we can run to Sydney on both tracks at the same time.
"We can have two trains running in the same direction side by side," Mr Zelvis said.
"We get these runners at level crossings look one way, see a train stopped at a platform and then only check the other track in the other direction and see nothing at all.
"That's when you do get a bit nervy because you know people don't look.
"It's unusual train movements they don't expect."
For all the horrific moments the state's drivers encounter, most wouldn't swap life on the tracks for quids.
"My whole career has been on trains," Mr Zelvis said.
"I started off as a cleaner on locos in 1971 at Port Kembla because I wasn't old enough to be on the diesels. You had to be 17½. I was 16½."
His enthusiasm hasn't waned.
"I love being up front, in control."
These days Mr Zelvis is the go-to man for assessment and training in Wollongong and at 58, he likes to think he has lots more to give.
"We run around the clock, I love the shift work, being up the front on my own.
"But I'm getting older and it's getting harder to get up at one in the morning," he joked.
"I love my job, I'm dedicated to my job and I couldn't ask for a better one.
"[Trespassers] should look at how much they can hurt themselves, the drivers, the families, what real damage they can do to so many people by being reckless."
Rail operators such as NSW Trains come together to promote rail safety messages for one week every year.
Running from August 12-18 this year, Rail Safety Week is now in its eighth year and will once again target local communities and the public, encouraging safety around railway lines.