Co Mayo, Ireland: Poor crossing discipline highlighted, ineffective risk control too

1 May

Ireland’s independent Rail Accident Investigation Unit (RAIU) has published the report of its investigation of a collision on a level crossing. The circumstances of the accident were that at approximately 09:55 on February 12th, 2014, a postal service van approached Corraun Level Crossing with the Level Crossing gates open and was driven onto the Level Crossing. At the same time an Irish Rail passenger service from Ballina to Manulla Junction was travelling through Corraun Level Crossing and struck the van. On impact, the van was thrown clear of the train and into the adjacent drainage ditch before coming to a stop. The driver of the van was seriously injured

The immediate cause of the accident was that the driver of the van did not stop, as required, at the Level Crossing and drove into the path of the oncoming train. Contributory factors associated with the incident are accident:

  • The gates at the Level Crossing were secured open, allowing the van to enter the Level Crossing without stopping
  • The Level Crossing was regularly misused by the local users, whereby the gates are regularly tied open.

The underlying causes associated with this accident are:

  • There is a history of misuse at the Level Crossing; with local users regularly misusing the Level Crossing;
  • Irish Rail did not take sufficient actions at the Level Crossing to prevent its regular misuse, despite the RAIU making a safety recommendation related to preventing level crossing misuse in 2009 and re-iterating in 2011.

An additional observation in this accident is:

  • The addition and purpose of the decision point line on user worked level crossings is not obvious to users of the Level Crossing and may cause confusion with statutory stop lines still at some level crossings.

As a result of its investigation, the RAIU has made three safety recommendations

  • Irish Rail should consider options to upgrade the crossing to minimise direct action by the users;
  • Irish Rail should carry out a full review of known misused user worked level crossings on public and private roads and either upgrade the level crossing or introduce measures to minimise their misuse;
  • Irish Rail should ensure that where a Decision Line is present at a level crossing, that the purpose of this Decision Line is appropriately conveyed to the level crossing users.

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