Australia: Regulator publishes level crossing policy

15 Jul

Australia’s national rail safety regulator has published a level crossing policy document which sets out an approach based around no new level crossings and a risk-based and proportionate reduction in risk at existing level crossings through closure and upgrade of level crossings.

To read more go to: http://www.onrsr.com.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/17620/Policy-Railway-Crossings.pdf

Pirron Yallock: Truck – train collision, crossing upgrade by end of year

15 Jul

A passenger train derailed with injuries to 19 as a result of a collision with a truck on a the Phalps Road level crossing in Pirron Yallock, near Colac, Victoria. The accident on July 13th, 2016 was at a crossing with a significant incident history which four years ago triggered an upgrade of the crossing four years ago. However, the lightly-used crossing is not due to have automatic half-barriers installed until the end of 2016. Unsurprisingly, questions are being asked as to why it takes more than four years to complete this upgrade.

Durham, NC: USD27 million grade separation complete

15 Jul

State transportation officials gathered in Durham on July 12th, 2016 to celebrate the completion of a construction project designed to enhance rail safety and efficiency.

“To help fulfill Governor McCrory’s 25-Year Vision, our Rail Division is working to enhance rail safety and connectivity across the state,” said North Carolina’s Transportation Secretary, Nick Tennyson. “These projects will modernize railroad track, roads and bridges along the corridor between Raleigh and Charlotte.”

The project is funded through a grant from the Federal Railroad Administration and was completed in partnership with the North Carolina Railroad Company and Norfolk Southern Railway.

Construction on the Hopson Road grade separation and passing track project began in 2013 and was the first Piedmont Improvement Program project to break ground. It was designed to improve road safety and speed up train travel along the Charlotte-Raleigh corridor by eliminating railroad crossings at Hopson Road and Church Street. A bridge wide enough to accommodate any future widening of Hopson Road was also built to carry train tracks over the road, replacing the existing street level crossing.

The project also constructed a new 3.3-mile passing track between McCrimmon Parkway in Morrisville and I-40 in Durham.

The improvements will help provide schedule reliability for passenger service as the addition of a second track will allow passenger trains to pass slower freight trains. The new bridge over Hopson Road will reduce the risk of automobile/train collisions, improve safety for automobile and rail passengers and reduce automobile and train traffic congestion.

“This project is a result of long-term vision and collaboration among all the partners involved,” said Scott Saylor, President of the North Carolina Railroad Company. “The Hopson Road grade separation and new passing track will have an immediate and significant impact on both rail and highway safety, as well as increased efficiencies for our freight and passenger rail providers.”

Delivery of the $27 million project is a partnership effort. NCDOT constructed the railroad bridge, road realignment and grading work for the parallel track. Norfolk Southern built the additional track line, and the North Carolina Railroad Company purchased the land for railroad improvements.

UK: Best performance in two decades

15 Jul

The number of people dying in level crossing accidents on Britain’s national rail network (Network Rail infrastructure) is at its lowest recorded level for nearly 20 years, according to the latest annual railway safety statistics released by RSSB ton July 13th, 2016.

Only three pedestrians died in accidents at level crossings in the year between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016, Also of note, there have been no passenger or workforce fatalities in train accidents for a record ninth year in a row.  These are two of the areas where the rail industry has retained a sustained focus on the risks, tackling them in an informed and coordinated way.

The industry’s Safety Risk Model (SRM) shows a risk of 11.4 Fatalities and weighted injuries (FWI) per year which falls within the remit of the Level Crossing Strategy Group (LCSG) and comprises 8% of the total mainline system FWI risk. The majority of risk is borne by members of the public with most casualties occurring to road vehicle occupants and pedestrians. Network Rail has put significant resource into reducing the risk at level crossings and successfully met their target of 25% reduction in risk at the end of Control Period 4 (CP4) March 31st 2014).

There were three fatalities at level crossing during 2015/16, all were pedestrian users. This is the lowest number of level crossing fatalities recorded since 1996/97. The overall level of harm at level crossing was 3.7 FWI, compared with 11.8 FWI for 2014/15.

At four, the number of train collisions with vehicles at level crossings was the lowest over the past ten years. The number of such accidents is relatively low, and shows quite some variability, but the generally lower numbers over the duration of CP4 are reflective of an improvement in level crossing risk. This is supported by a reducing trend in the recorded number of near misses with road vehicles at level crossings.

Improving level crossing safety is a major focus for the industry. Network Rail has substantial safety improvements planned for CP5, which runs from April 2014 to March 2019, and which build upon the 31% reduction in level crossing risk achieved during the course of CP4. At the end of 2015/16 Network Rails’s LCRIM model, which tracks changes in the aggregate risk at level crossings, stood at 12.3 FWI, compared with 12.8 FWI at the end of 2014/15.

For more detail go to http://www.rssb.co.uk/Library/risk-analysis-and-safety-reporting/2016-07-annual-safety-performance-report-2015-2016.pdf

International Level Crossing Awareness Day 2016

10 Jun

LXinfoImage569-ilcad=englishThe 8th International Level Crossing Awareness Day has today June 10th, 2016 attracted extensive media coverage from around the world. This demonstrates the reach of the annual event with 40 nations across all five continents participating. For the first time the launch event has been spread across two countries over two days leading nicely into next Global Level Crossing Symposium in Helsinki.

Today in Riga, Latvia, there has been a conference with international participation built around the ILAD 2016 focus on those who through age or disability have longer reaction times when determining whether or not it is safe to cross. The second component is a technical visit hosted by Estonia’s ever innovative Operation Lifesaver programme.

Chief Executive of the International Union of Railways Jean-Pierre Loubinoux: “As in previous years, we are proud to bring together about 40 countries to participate in this global event, either by relaying it on their websites or on social media, or by organising a range of activities around 10-11 June.

The partners in ILCAD will be focusing in particular on safety at level crossings, but some will also make the most of the opportunity to raise public awareness of other dangers such as crossing railway lines where it is strictly forbidden to do so, or safety on station platforms. We wish our partners all the best for their campaign.”

Each year, the ILCAD partners choose a different section of the public for their awareness campaign. Since we have been experiencing in a certain number of countries an increasing number of collisions at level crossings involving seniors, we have decided this year to focus on “Senior citizens and people with sensory and mobility restrictions”.

As for all other categories of road users, pedestrians and cyclists, collisions may involve seniors who may take wrong decisions either by error or deliberately. For this particular category of persons, misbehaviour can be linked to habit, ageing (failing sight, hearing loss, longer reaction and decision times), and to the overestimation of their ability to take safe decisions which can as both pedestrians and motorists put them and others at risk of harm, all too often fatally.

To view the new public safety announcement addressing the over estimate of personal capability please visit: http://www.ilcad.org.

To put ILCAD in context there are around 600 000 level crossings worldwide (213 000 in the USA, 113 000 in Europe). In Europe, while fatalities at level crossings amount to just 1% of road fatalities but over 25% of railway related fatalities (in 2012 more than 320 of which 38% were aged 65 and over).

New York: State legislature passes crossing safety baton to Governor Cuomo

23 May

With due process in the state legislature generating a new bill in New York State, the focus has shifted to Governor Cuomo who is expected to sign-off the new requirement to improve the understanding of the risks at each level crossing underpinned by a comprehensive inventory of the state’s more than 5,000 level crossings. The New York State Department of Transportation will be the lead organisation  tasked with developing priorities for elimination and upgrade of level crossings on a state-wide basis.

The legislature picked-up the baton in relation to a fatal collision on a level crossing in Westchester County early last year.

Interlaken, Switzerland: Train collies with tourist bus

23 May

The full-barrier (quad-gate) level crossing adjacent to Interlake Ost railway station was the context within which a passenger train collided with a tour bus carrying tourists from Taiwan. The accident occurred at about 8.00pm on May 20th and led to 17 tour bus passengers being taken t hospital, with most discharged the same evening. No one on board the train was hurt.

Railway owner – BLS – has said that there isn’t a history of accidents at the level crossing and that they will not comment further on the ongoing investigation to establish what went wrong at a location where train speed is limited to 40kph..

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