Tag Archives: Level crossings

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).

USA: Countermeasure Strategies for Pedestrian Safety: Pedestrian Safety at Transit Locations

8 Jan

This installment of the 12-part Federal Highway Administration webinar series focused on Countermeasure Strategies for Pedestrian Safety will provide detailed information on safety considerations for pedestrians at transit stops. This presentation will examine some of the pedestrian safety issues that may exist at transit stop locations. Attendees will learn about potential solutions for these problems and discuss how improving safety can benefit the transit system.

The webinar will be held on January 20, 2016, 1:00–2:30 PM EST. For more information and to register, visit https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6814075248488334338

UK: Ten years on and a very different place

16 Dec

If one event has changed the way in which Network Rail, Britain’s national rail infrastructure manager, thinks about safety, it was the death of two teenage girls on the station pedestrian crossing at Elsenham in Essex in December 2005.

This sea change was from a standard “level crossings are safe if used properly” blame the user rubric to one of a proactive national programme to reduce level crossing risk. But this took relentless pressure from the bereaved to get to the truth behind the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson. Most visible were Olivia’s parents Tina Hughes and Chris Bazlinton.

The pressure from the families exposed a very sorry state of affairs with unacceptably poor risk management given that long before these Elsenham fatalities, there was knowledge within Network Rail of the need for action to reduce risk so far as was reasonably practicable. This formed the basis of a belated successful prosecution of Network Rail for their failure to manage risk in accordance with health and safety legislation.

Although level crossing safety in Britain compared favourably internationally in 2005, it was in 2010 that Network Rail launched its level crossing safety improvement programme, within which Tina Hughes acts as a users’ champion, for which she was recognised with the award of an MBE.

A key component of the programme has been the recruitment of more than 100 level crossing managers each of whom manages safety at about 60 level crossings, both public and private. The work of these managers is underpinned by a range of initiatives from closure to upgrade, including the adoption of new technologies. Equally important is the relationship these managers build with the authorised users of private crossings and within the community in the case of public crossings.

Since 2010, Network Rail has:

  • Closed 987 level crossings
  • Improved sighting at 1,100 crossings
  • Fitted 494 level crossings with brighter LED lights
  • Fitted 113 level crossings  with spoken audible warnings to announce when “another train is coming” after one train has passed through. This control is a direct outcome of the Elsenham fatalities
  • Fitted 66 sets of barriers at automatic open level crossings
  • Fitted a further 66 crossings with a time delay, preventing a signaller from mistakenly raising the barriers as a train approaches. This control is a direct outcome of the Moreton-on-Lugg fatality
  • Fitted more than 20 level crossings with Home Office approved red light safety cameras which act like speed cameras and capture motorists crossing after the warning sequence has begun
  • Provided the British Transport Police with a fleet of 15 mobile safety vehicles with number plate recognition camera technology introduced to target misuse
  • Begun fitting 81 private level crossings with power operated gates
  • Developed and begun installing a less costly modular footbridge to facilitate elimination of footpath and station pedestrian level crossings
  • With RSSB further developed the All Level Crossing Risk Model (ALCRM) to allow a better understanding of the specific risks at each crossing and deploy appropriate warning and protection measures

At the time of writing, the last accidental fatality (excluding intentional deaths) was on February 8th, 2015. This is the longest time without an accidental fatality since the level crossing programme began in 2010.

Thus, the legacy of the deaths of Olivia and Charlotte in 2005 is that today Britain has the best level crossings safety record of any major railway in Europe, and probably the world.

New Zealand: New analysis shows 40% of crossing accidents involve inattention

11 Dec

Inattention has been shown to be the major factor in more than 40% of serious and fatal injury collisions between vehicles and trains at railway level crossings.

The finding comes from a new analysis of five years’ of crash data taken from the NZ Transport Agency Crash Analysis System involving incidents between 2010 and 2014.

KiwiRail CEO Peter Reidy says that a nationwide safety campaign launched today by KiwiRail and TrackSAFE NZ will remind New Zealanders to stay alert at level crossings over the holiday period.

“While people are heading off on holidays, the trains are still working hard.  If you’re enjoying your drive – please stay ‘switched on’ and focused.

“When approaching railway tracks, always obey the signs and make sure your exit is clear before you cross the tracks,” he says.

Pedestrians are also reminded to act safely around the rail corridor this holiday season.  There have been more than 250 reports this year of people illegally crossing railway tracks and around 60 of these were classified as a near miss.

“People should only cross tracks at designated pedestrian level crossings, where there are warning signs and signals to help people cross safely.

“Trains are quiet, they move faster than they appear, and they take a long time to stop.  In Auckland and Wellington in particular, the new electric trains are quiet, and often people do not hear them approaching.”

TrackSAFE NZ Manager Megan Drayton says that so far this year there have been 11 vehicle collisions at public road level crossings.  Last year there were 18 vehicle level crossing collisions.

She says while it’s pleasing to see a decline in the number of such collisions and no fatalities, she warns people not to become complacent.

“If you see railway tracks, assume there will be a train.  No matter how well you know the level crossing, trains can come at any time and from either direction,” she says.

Megan says train drivers are also hoping for a collision-free holiday period.  “Train drivers and their families are also victims in railway collisions and near misses.  We want to keep them safe this holiday period as well,” she says.

The safety campaign involves nationwide newspaper and radio advertising and social media promotion urging people to switch off at their holiday destinations, not at level crossings.

Aba, Nigeria: Calls for warning signs gather momentum

14 May

Motorist using major roads in Aba, Abia State, are speaking out against the inability of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), to erect warning signs and signals at level crossings on major roads to reduce the risk of accidents. Just waving a red flag is no longer seen as sufficient protection.

Melbourne, VIC: Labor’s budget allocates AUD 2.6 billion to grade-separation

11 May

The Victoria Labor Government’s first budget has at its heart the tackling of road congestion and elimination of level crossings. The Labor budget includes AUD 2.6 billion to be spent on grade-separation schemes across the Melbourne city region.

The State Government has already said all nine level crossings between Dandenong and Caulfield would be removed as part of the Cranbourne – Pakenham line of route development project.

Four more level crossing elimination projects have already been put out to tender, these are, Main Road in St Albans, North Road in Ormond, Burke Road in Glen Iris, and Blackburn Road in Blackburn. Each of these will gone within three years when grade-separation works are complete. Hot on the heels of these schemes the Level Crossing Removal Authority has already taken four morel level crossing grade-separation projects to the market on an informal basis. These are: Furlong Road, St Albans; Heatherdale Road, Blackburn; Centre Road, Bentleig; and, McKinnon Road, McKinnon.

London, UK: Parents criticise Network Rail bonuses

19 Apr

The parents of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson, killed on the Elsenham Station footpath level crossing in December 2005 had plans to challenge bonus payments. However, they were not allowed into the meeting of Network Rail’s members who provide limited scrutiny of the publicly financed in place of shareholders for what, in essence, is a nationalised utility.

The parents maintain that director level bonuses should not be paid when there are still many rural level crossings that need to be addressed to improve safety of users.

Without doubt, Network Rail was spurred into much greater action to reduce risk arising at level crossing as result of the tenacious pressure of Olivia’s parents, in particular, to get to the truth behind the management of risk at the Elsenham Station level crossing and more generally to reduce risk. This campaigning led to a level crossing closure programme that has eliminated some 10% of level crossings of Network Rail’s infrastructure.