Netherlands: Government adds EUR25 million to upgrade passive crossings

10 Jan

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.

Gazipur, Bangladesh: Five killed in crossing collision

10 Jan

Five persons were killed during the morning of January 8th, 2017, when the car in which they were travelling was struck by a train on a level crossing near Gazipur. This level crossing has no protection other than a sign warning of its presence. Local reports say that the road on which the victims were travelling is of relatively recent construction. Thus, there is a suggestion that the level crossing itself is informal and not recognised as a crossing for which the railway administration accepts responsibility.

Previously, in 2016 a man was killed when he was struck by a train leading to an intensification of community demands that the level crossing is upgraded and protected to minimise the risk of a recurrence

Flaxby, UK: Problem crossing – the story continues….

7 Dec

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.

Ratchaburi Province, Thailand: Four killed as pick-up hit by train

26 Sep

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.



Needham Market, UK: Network Rail fined GBP 4.0 million for 2011 crossing fatality

22 Sep

Network Rail, having previously admitted their guilt, has been fined GBP 4.0 million in the matter of a fatality on the Gipsy Lane footpath level crossing near Needham Market, Suffolk, in August 2011.

Passing sentence Judge Martyn Levett said he would have imposed a fine of GBP 6.0 million but for Network Rail’s guilty plea at the first opportunity.

Given just five-seconds visual warning of a train in respect of a known high-risk crossing where it might take a vulnerable user twice that to cross, a lower speed limit should have been imposed.

Indeed, Network Rail staff had proposed a cut from 100 mph to 55mph  not long before the accident. However, no change was made before the fatality occurred as a more senior manager had planned to look at this when he returned from holiday. The judge said the decision should have been made there and then, adding a limit had been imposed immediately after the death.


Network Rail is  working to replace the crossing with a footbridge.

City of Industry, CA: ACE makes it 16

21 Sep

Federal, state and local officials have broken ground to mark the start of the 16th grade separation project under the auspices of the ACE Construction Authority’s work to improve safety and reduce congestion on the Alameda corridor.

The latest site at which work is underway is the Fullerton Road grade separation linking the City of Industry with an unincorporated area of Los Angeles County. The USD145.6 million project will see Fullerton Road lowered to pass beneath the Union Pacific (UP) right-of-way in place of the present at-grade route across the UP tracks

The Fullerton Road-UP intersection currently handles about 50 trains and 24,000 road vehicles each day with more in prospect over the next decade. Completion, scheduled for 2019 will eliminate substantial delays to road traffic and improve safety too. Of particular note is the improvement in response times of emergency vehicles using the Fullerton Road corridor.

FRA data records two train-road vehicle collisions within the last ten years.

Victoria: Crossing closure extra costs could be AUD 1.0 billion

21 Sep

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.