The Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC) joins already as a tradition the worldwide International Level Crossing Awareness Day. This year is dedicated to a collision of a passenger train with a truck and to the following rescue of wounded people.
ILCAD (International Level Crossing Awareness Day) was established in 2009 from the initiative of the International Union of Railways (UIC), first as a European event. One 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 has been participating in this initiative regularly since the day of its establishment; over 45 companies worldwide participate in this campaign.
“The biggest safety risks railway companies have to deal with daily are road users’ or pedestrians’ collisions with trains on railway crossings. Although railways strive to decrease the level of risk, too many people still die every day,” says Mr. Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director General.
The Railway Infrastructure Administration is aware that the rate of such accidents is still unnecessarily high. ”In a vast majority, these are unfortunately cases of law infringement from the side of drivers or pedestrians. Precisely a demonstration of such a collision as well as the rescuers’ procedure on the spot immediately after the accident is the topic of this year“, said Mr. Pavel Surý, Director General of the Railway Infrastructure Administration. A collision with a train is fatal in most cases. ”By this demonstration we want to warn everybody who thinks that he is invincible or that nothing of the sort an happen to him “, said Mr. Surý.
”While a road passenger car can stop from a speed of 100 km/h at a breaking distance of 50 - 80 metres, this distance is 1,200 – 1,500 metres for a train. If somebody decides not to respect closed barriers and tries to cross right in front of an arriving train the train driver does not have a real possibility to stop in front of an approaching danger and prevent a collision“, added the Director General of the Railway Infrastructure Administration.
This is being confirmed by Mr. Michal Štěpán, Member of the Board of Directors of České dráhy (Czech Railways). ”We find out still more often that people do not respect warning signs on railway crossings. We can see videos in mass media where I saw not only passenger road cars and trucks but also buses bypassing closed barriers or driving over a crossing despite blinking warning signs. Reckless drivers endanger not only themselves but also our passengers and employees. Besides human lives wasted and wounded people, a material aspect exists as well. Only last year, damage on our rolling stock during accidents on railway crossings amounted up to 27.5 million Czech crowns “, adds Mr. Štěpán.
Impacts of such a collision are a real lump in a throat even for hardened rescuers. ”Upon arrival to the spot there is no time for emotions. Our work and duty is helping those in need,“ says Mr, Václav Mlejnský, head of Prague Railway Firemen Unit when describing the rescuers’ work. As he admits by himself even after many years of practice, it is extremely difficult getting used to the worst – wounded children. It is not an easy work when a train collides with a bigger obstacle such as a truck or bus. Consequences use to be extremely serious. “Only freeing the wounded from distorted wreckage may be extremely demanding and difficult. Seconds may play a pivotal role“, says the railway firemen specialists’ head about such actions.
While statistics of pedestrians killed directly on railway crossings rapidly decrease (to a third since 2003) the trend remains for collisions with road vehicles. Approximately 170 collisions per year happen on crossings with tens of people getting killed. Last year brought a sad record as 42 people died on railway crossings. Only 19 of them were pedestrians, the remaining ones were car drivers.
Table Accidents and killed persons 2012 - 2014
|Collisions on railway crossings in total||176||165||173|
|Killed persons in total||27||23||42|
|From which killed pedestrians||11||12||19|
Now let us return to railway crossings. There is over 8,000 of them in the Czech Republic. Thus we occupy a unique position in Europe in the number of crossings per kilometre of lines. The Railway Infrastructure Administration spends hundreds of millions of Czech crowns per year to increase their safeguarding. We also partially succeed in closing unused crossings on special-purpose, field and forest ways and roads. Within large investments on main lines, new and most safe grade separated junctions are built instead of railway crossings. The construction of such a safe junction or underpass may however cost up to 100 million Czech crowns in some cases.
“Even the best safeguarding cannot be of any help if people decide that they are not going to respect it. I believe that such events as precisely ILCAD are efforts well spent. We must show people concrete risks and consequences and open their eyes“, says the Director General Pavel Surý in conclusion of this year’s international event.
Among activities of the Railway Infrastructure Administration related to the international ILCAD day we also operate a special thematic website dedicated namely to railway crossings. The direct link can be found on the homepage of our website www.szdc.cz. Besides all information relevant to this topic you can download a special educational film.
More practical information and education materials dedicated to prevention and eliminating dangerous and irresponsible behaviour on railway crossings can be found on the website of the project www.levelcrossing.net and also www.ilcad.org.
|Press release to download|