The Dutch government’s Sharon Dijksma Secretary of State for Infrastructure and Environment has announced an increase of EUR25 million, on top of EUR10 million previously agreed, to address risk at passive level crossings. In total there aremore than 100 passive level crossings, the number of which will be reduced with a proportion of the funding now available. Others will be upgraded to an active configuration.
To increase the scope of this project the Secretary of State has said that she is looking for provincial and municipal administrations to contribute additional funding to this project.
This focus on upgrading and eliminating presently passive level crossings follows the collision on a now eliminated passive level crossing in Winsum, near Groningen on November 18th, 2016 in which a passenger train derailed. This collision with a milk tanker returning from a farm injured 18.
The Oakwood Farm user worked crossing near Flaxby on the York to Harrogate line has a very long history of misuse and abuse going back to at least 1991 when I was British Rail’s regional director with responsibility for this crossing. Then, with manually operated gates, the authorised user and his guests routinely chose to leave the gates open. I do not know how many times someone was sent to the crossing to close the gates. Indeed the gates open at Oakwood Farm crossing generated numerous reports from train crew attesting to the gates being open again.
Significant investment on the part of the railway saw miniature stop lights installed, fully interlocked with the signalling system to ensure a very high integrity of warning. However, misuse has continued since then and led to a collision on May 14th, 2015 that could have had catastrophic consequences. Fortunately no one was killed, although the train driver sustained injuries which kept him off work for 5 1/2 months when his train struck a tractor on the crossing.
Now the tractor driver who admitted endangering safety on the railway has been sentenced by Judge Paul Batty QC to 150 hours of unpaid community work and payment of £300 prosecution costs. The costs to the rail industry were nearly £120,000.
Listening to broadcast media reports and reading the contribution of print-based media it’s clear the long history of misuse has not been reported. In one case, the main story was the Judge saying that the crossing needs to be further upgraded by Network Rail. But, in reality can this be justified on safety grounds? Surely, there should be at least as great a focus on enforcing the safe use of the crossing as presently configured? i do hope that Network Rail and British Transport Police are proactive in this regard.
The driver of a pick-up truck and three passengers travelling with him were killed when the vehicle was hit by a train on a level crossing between Potharam and Jed Samian, Ratcchaburi Province.
Witnesses of the accident which occurred during the evening of September 24th, have said that the pick-up was in a line of traffic that was waiting for the train to cross the highway. Then the pick-up was driven from the queue and had overtaken the queue of traffic. The pick-up was crossing the railway as the train hit the vehicle with fatal consequences for the four occupants of the road vehicle.
Having successfully leased the Port of Melbourne to the private sector for AUD 9.7 billion, the State of Victoria has now put a further eleven Melbourne conurbation level crossing closure projects out to tender.
The State Government is intent on having 37 level crossing elimination projects underway or completed in advance of the 2018 state elections. However, the state’s Public Transport Minister has warned that eliminating 50 level crossings in the Melbourne metropolitan region may now cost between AUD 6.0-7.0 billion, this is up to AUD 1.0 billion than previously anticipated. subsequent “clarification” has said that the level crossing elimination budget remains between AUD 5.0-6.0 billion with the balance to be charged to the budget for station reconstruction and other consequential rail network improvements
However, the money coming from the Federal Government’s asset recycling scheme bonus payment of 15% of the sum raised from the lease of the Port of Melbourne has been halved to AUD 877.5 million because the state government-federal government bilateral agreement was not concluded before June 30th, 2016. A state cry of foul appears justified.
The incoming 2014 labor administration pledged to eliminate 50 greater Melbourne urban level crossings within two four-year parliamentary terms with 20 to be gone by 2018.