Accident rate at level crossings continually rises
Despite all warnings death rate at level crossings rises
Prague, 26/11 – Drivers, respect the level crossings! This could be the common appeal of the Ministry of Transport, the Railway Infrastructure Administration and the Rail Inspection of the Czech Republic. Accident rate at level crossings continually rises and so does the number of the killed and the injured.
While the statistics of the Rail Inspection for 2009 show the total of 227 accidents at level crossings, as of 18th November 2010 we have already reached the number 233. There is also a rapid increase in the number of the injured which was 85 last year and this year we register 102 so far, which means a frightening increase by 20 %. The Railway Infrastructure Administration adds that the physical damage induced by such accidents has exceeded CZK 55 million.
The saddest statistics, however, shows the fact that compared to previous year more people were killed at level crossings. In 2009, the Rail Inspection registers 38 of such cases; as of 18th November 2010 we are on the number 40 so far. This year has thus overtaken the statistics of all 2009 in every way. „The highest number of the killed can be found at level crossings equipped with flashing light crossing signals“, notes Pavel Halla, SŽDC´s press agent. In relation to the increasing number of accidents it is necessary to stress the fact that the rail transport has priority by law to the transport on roads. Jan Kučera, Deputy of the Rail Inspection, adds: „Laws of physics are constant and drivers can hardly fight against multi-tonne carriages going at the speed of up to 160 km/h.”
PREVENTION STILL EXISTS
Due to constant unrespecting of level crossing warning signals by some drivers, several precautions were introduced in the past that should decrease accident rate at level crossings. It is e.g. a briefing film produced by the Rail Inspection entitled Driver, a threat to level crossings, reminding drivers of all the basic rules for crossing the level crossings. The film is available for free download on the website www.dicr.cz and it can be used as a free teaching material by driving schools as well as organizations that annually train their staff who are allowed to drive company cars. An accident prevention film with the topic on safety at level crossings is also presented by the Railway Infrastructure Administration on its website www.szdc.cz.
A unique system of level crossings register was established in the Czech Republic, following safety recommendations of the Rail Inspection. It consists in unique specification of level crossings owned by the state as well as by other bodies (siding track owners, other owners and rail operators). The Railway Infrastructure Administration came up with the unique system early 2009 and after a test run in the Liberec region it spread out to our whole territory on 1st August 2009. Each level crossing on the national and regional rail owned by the state got allocated its own number. The number is unique. The form of the number is in case of a level crossing on a state-owned rail P1, P2, P3 to P9000. In case of a level crossing on a regional rail not owned by the state, the allocated number of the level crossing gets the form P9001 to P9999. In case of a level crossing on a siding track, the specification number is P10000 to P99999, i.e. a five-digit number. The Ministry of Transport welcomes this system since in case of emergency (an accident/obstacle at a level crossings etc.) it is possible to close that particular section thanks to the information provided by the public. Pavel Halla from SŽDC confirms this fact: „On 1st August 2009 a private car crashed at a level crossing near the railway station Pšovany and skidded to a halt on the track. Thanks to a fast communication of the level crossing number to the operational centre IZS, the line was closed within two minutes since the report had been received.“
In the Czech Republic there are nearly 8 300 level crossings. „The ideal situation would be if all of them were secured with gates. However, as this would require hundred millions of investment, safety procedures are always addressed on a case-by-case basis. A complex solution is unfortunately unfeasible in terms of finance,“ concludes Martin Novák, press agent from the Ministry of Transport.
Accidents at level crossings
|Number of accidents||Killes||Injured|
|2010 = 25. 11. 2010, zdroj: DI|
VK - level crossing safety installation with warning crosses only
PZS - level crossing safety installation with warning crosses and flashing light crossing signals (without gates)
PZZ - level crossing safety installation with warning crosses and flashing light crossing signals with gates
PZM - level crossing safety installation with warning crosses and mechanical gates (without lights)
Procedure for the closure of a level crossing:
- The person who needs to close the line (e.g. a car driver who got stuck at the level crossing), calls the emergency line 112 or 150
- The operator of the rescue service asks the caller to communicate the level crossing number
- The assistant of the joint rescue service calls by the table the train dispatcher and communicates his request for the closure of the line
- The train dispatcher identifies by the table the specific level crossing and the track section and takes necessary measures
Mgr. Jakub Ptačinský
Bc. Martin Drápal
Cellular: +420 736 521 000
Bc. Pavel Halla
SŽDC, s. o.
Cellular: +420 602 665 850