The more responsible car drivers are, the more safe level crossings we have!

02.05.2013

The Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC) joins already as a tradition the worldwide International Level Crossing Awareness Day. This important day was set for 7 May this year and will be part of the Global Road Safety Week. More than 45 railway companies worldwide are involved in the campaign.

ILCAD (International Level Crossing Awareness Day) was established in 2009 from the initiative of the International Union of Railways (UIC), first as European (ILCAD) (European Level Crossing Awareness Day) and a year later it extended to the whole world. Its objective is to draw the attention of the public to level crossings of the road with the railway and to appeal for respecting rules of safe behaviour in order to minimize fatal accidents. The Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC) has been participating in this initiative regularly since the day of its establishment.

“The biggest safety risks railway companies have to deal with daily are road users’ collisions with trains on railway crossings. Fatal injuries at level crossings in 27 European countries represent 30 % of accidental deaths on the railway. Although railways strive to decrease the level of risk, too many people still die or are seriously injured during accidents on level crossings every day,” says the UIC Director General Mr. Jean-Pierre Loubinoux.

“Level crossings are safe only if car drivers strictly abide to valid rules. Statistics demonstrate more than clearly that the vast majority of accidents is caused by inappropriate behaviour of road users, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. Therefore these accidents cannot be linked to “railway” accidents and such affirmation would be erroneous. It is evident that this topic must be common for all who are involved, that means not only for the railway but also for car drivers and pedestrians,” says in this connection the SŽDC Director General Mr. Jiří Kolář.

The Railway Infrastructure Administration is aware that the number of accidents on railway crossings is still unnecessarily high, decreasing tendencies notwithstanding (see table below). In the majority of cases unfortunately they are definitely caused by motor car drivers or pedestrians breaking the law. When comparing the number of level crossings, the density of our rail network and the number of extraordinary events on railway crossings, the Czech Republic does not deviate from the situation in Europe on average.

Increasing safety on railway crossings is still one of the main priorities of the Railway Infrastructure Administration. “Every year we put hundreds of millions of Czech crowns in increasing safety on railway crossings, Just as an example - in the two years to follow this sum will reach almost two billion Czech crowns,” says the SŽDC Director General Mr. Jiří Kolář about the extent of investments in preparation. These financial resources will enable total modernisation of approximately 400 level crossings on the whole Czech territory . The Railway Infrastructure Administration manages 8,070 railway crossings in the Czech Republic.

SŽDC strives and will always strive to increase safety on railway crossings. Besides investments into technical safeguarding these efforts concentrate also on other adaptations. Partial success is achieved in closing especially unused level crossings on purpose-built, field and forest roads, new and the most safe grade-separated junctions are being built instead of level crossings within large investments on main lines. The costs of building such a safe overpass or underpass amount in many cases up to 100 million Czech crowns. It is clear therefore that this solution cannot be applied on the whole Czech rail network.

Development of extraordinary events in the period 2003 – 2013 (as of 31 March 2013)

Vývoj mimořádných událostí 2003–2013 (stav k 31. 3. 2013)

  2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
number of extraordinary events 288 265 249 264 229 213 209 255 181 176 37
death 67 56 52 45 31 44 35 49 34 26 9
injury 156 120 90 130 112 113 81 122 103 107 9
damage [CZK] 126 627 221 50 220 977 44 051 094 54 815 863 76 037 424 51 314 624 55 472 245 84 098 741 52 279 287 78 790 440 13 451 092

 

In 2012 too SŽDC concentrated on increasing safety on railway crossings. Changes in safety systems occurred on 96 crossings in total, of which on 35 level crossings St. Andrew’s crosses were exchanged for a higher degree of safety. It was also possible to close entirely several unused or redundant level crossings. This trend continues for SŽDC this year as well.

Besides that a unique system of numbering in the Czech Republic was already submitted for approval in the past, enabling a unified, simple and unambiguous identification of level crossings. Introducing the proposed system may enable in case of need (occurrence of extraordinary event on a level crossing, obstacle on a level crossing etc.) a very quick stop of railway operation in the line section concerned. This effective system has been in operation since 1 August 2009. Its contribution is confirmed not only by tens of timely and successful interventions on the emergency phone number 112 but also by the fact that this system has been taken over from us by Slovakia as well.

What does the system consist in? Every level crossing on the railway has a unique five-digits designation attributed in forms P0001 – P9999. The crossing’s number is written in black on a white self-adhesive reflective plastic film which can be found either on the back side of every St. Andrew’s cross or the back side of the banner signal. In case of an accident or jamming on a level crossing and calling the emergency phone number 112 or 150, the station dispatcher is able to identify unambiguously the specific railway crossing and stop all railway operation immediately in cooperation with SŽDC. Namely the digit code excludes the possibility of any substitution of the line or accident site.

Prevention is the main option to solve problems. “Within SŽDC participation in ILCAD, we also operate a specialized website dealing namely with level crossings. You can find a direct link on the homepage of our website www.szdc.cz,” Anna Kodysová, Head of SŽDC International Department, specifies how to get additional information related to the ILCAD campaign. Besides other information on this topic a tutorial movie can be also found for download.

You can find additional practical information and guidelines on preventing and eliminating dangerous and irresponsible behaviour at railway level crossings on the project website www.levelcrossing.net and also at www.ilcad.org.


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