Increasing safety at railway crossings
Prague, 21 July 2016 – Railway operation safety and therefore increasing safety at railway crossings as well is one of the main priorities of Správa železniční dopravní cesty (the Czech Railway Infrastructure Administration). Implacable statistics of accidents and tragic consequences of road cars’ collisions with trains at railway crossings require even more technical safeguarding such as detectors of obstacles, sequential tipping of barriers or intelligent camera systems. All safety measures adopted by the railway notwithstanding, correct behaviour of drivers and pedestrians, observance of given rules as well as prevention remains the key factor.
Detectors of obstacles, sequential tipping of barriers
“Since this February, we have been testing a laser detector of obstacles at Studénka railway crossing and since June at two more crossings in Olomouc and Pardubice“, says Mr. Pavel Surý, Director General of SŽDC and adds: ”Results are currently under gradual evaluation in cooperation with the supplier. The first test results demonstrate that the detectors’ operation is reliable. For ensuring the tests’ completeness, testing must continue during winter as well in order to verify operation in harder climatic conditions“. Another technology for detection of obstacles which is going to be tested by SŽDC this year is based on a 3D infrared camera or a detector using the microwave radar principle.
Testing operation of detectors will take one year at minimum due to the necessity of verifying their reliability and their resistance against optics’ contamination in various climatic conditions, especially under heavy rain, snowfall, frost or fog. Together with activating and testing detectors of obstacles, suitable technical solutions are being looked for to stop a train in case when an obstacle at a railway crossing is detected.
While assembling the detector of obstacles at a railway crossing in Pardubice, sequential tipping of barriers was activated here as well. Its functionality and reactions of road operation participants is under evaluation. A possible addition of sequential barriers’ tipping is being considered in localities where it may be suitable due to the configuration of the current crossing equipment.
Intelligent camera systems
Besides laser detectors, intelligent camera systems are also being tested in order to record automatically any prohibited entry of a road vehicle onto a railway crossing in a phase of warning. In addition to scanning, these systems are able to generate automatically outputs usable for offence or criminal prosecution of reckless drivers. Such a system is being tested at three railway crossings at railway stations Úvaly, Uhersko and Polanka nad Odrou.
Adding barriers at crossings with first class roads
SŽDC also elaborated a list of all railway crossings with first class roads equipped with installations without barriers. The list contains approximately 60 railway crossings with the objective to complete them with barriers as soon as possible. Currently the project preparation is finished, implementation is expected in 2017.
Analysis of level crossings’ safety increase on rail transit corridors
Within increasing safety on the railway, 100 railway crossings on transit corridors were selected for which analysis envisaged a possibility of closing, road traffic restriction or reconstruction to a grade-separated junction. Based on the study results, preparation for 24 priority constructions started with the objective to increase the level of safety at railway crossings. Total costs of these adaptations are estimated to CZK 1.872 billion. Each construction must be approved by the Central Committee of the Ministry of Transport.
”However, we must be aware of the fact that even the best safeguarding is not of any use if pedestrians and drivers do not observe fundamental laws and regulations in force. Therefore, construction measures must be accompanied by prevention and appropriate repression which can remedy frequent reckless and unlawful behaviour of those who do not observe valid regulations and laws“, adds Mr. Surý. Long-term statistics demonstrate that 99% of accidents are caused by drivers.
Public education and repression towards reckless drivers must remain part of long-term solutions. From a long-term point of view, SŽDC will focus on analysis of risks at railway crossings which must be included in a complex approach to transport safety management in general. A similar approach is applied now e.g. in civil aviation or in some industry establishments. In cooperation with the road carriers’ association ČESMAD BOHEMIA, an information and education document was elaborated for professional drivers as well. Since January 2016, professional courses for drivers include aspects of drivers’ behaviour at railway crossings. ČESMAD trains approximately 15,000 professional drivers per year.
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