Tuesday 1 December 2020

24th plenary meeting of the European Level Crossing Forum (ELCF)

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On 20 November 2020, the 24th plenary meeting of ELCF (European Level Crossing Forum), one of the working groups of the UIC Safety Platform, was held remotely.

Mr Allan Spence, Network Rail and ELCF Chair, welcomed over 50 participants from 20 countries, including – for the first time – Argentina, USA, Iran and Israel, an indication that online communication tools made it possible for more people from all over the world to attend day-to-day meetings.

The first part of the meeting was dedicated to ELCF (level crossing safety engineering measures). The main items tackled were risk assessment and analysis, tool-boxes, obstacle detectors and innovations to improve safety at level crossings.

The second part of the afternoon meeting was dedicated to level crossing safety education and enforcement measures, and the meeting finished with ILCAD 2020 and ILCAD 2021.

Mr Spence reminded participants that 2020 had been a year that we would choose to forget, with terrible human, social and economic consequences. Our lives had not been the same as before and would perhaps not be the same in the future either. Our communication methods had also changed. The 23rd ELCF meeting had been intended as a face-to-face event on 12 and 13 March 2020 at the kind invitation of ProRail in the Netherlands, but this had had to be cancelled because of the Covid-19 outbreak. The two-day meeting had been replaced by a remote one-day meeting on 12 March 2020. Since then, we had become used to meeting in brief virtual sessions or big conferences, which still allowed us to share our experiences.

Risk assessment and analysis
Mr Ludovic Chastenet de Castaing, Road safety study advisor at CEREMA, France (https://www.cerema.fr/fr/), and Mr Alain Autruffe, Director of the Level Crossing Programme at SNCF Réseau, presented the French LC diagnosis, led by a partnership of road and railway managers, and the development of shared guidelines on LC safety measures.
This very good presentation demonstrated how to ensure that both road and rail authorities were involved in risk diagnoses.

Mrs Namrita Kohli, RSSB, and Mr Tim Clark, Level Crossing Safety Manager Network Rail, presented the “Level Crossing Risk Management Toolkit: development of the tool (RSSB) and its application (Network Rail)”. Link to the tool: http://lxrmtk.com/.

Mr Frédéric Hénon, UIC Head of Operation and Safety Unit, supported by Mr Spence, presented a “UIC project proposal: Method of level crossings risk analysis”.

The UIC proposal was split into two clear phases:

  • First step (2021): UIC Task Force to establish the state of the art of:
    • Existing Risk Analysis Methods, mapping, etc., taking into consideration all contextual aspects: technology, social, regulatory, etc.
    • Existing investments/plans scenarios at LC, mapping of related decision-making processes.
  • Second step (2022): (assuming the above had been achieved) study for guidance on:
    • A full methodological risk analysis at LC.
    • Method for strategies of investments (cost/efficiency ratio).
      The approach was widely supported by the members.

Mrs Safiye Emilie Dursun, Senior Engineer at Bane NOR, presented the results of a questionnaire launched through ELCF for a “Benchmark on obstacle detectors”.

Innovations to reduce risks at LCs

Mrs Katarzyna Kucharek introduced the PKP Group Foundation.
Mr Karol Gruetzmacher, CTO at Vimos start-up, introduced his company and their low-cost LC safety concept: http://vimos.eu/.

Mr Benjamin Charles, RATP, presented an application called “Amy” to warn pedestrians and cyclists of the dangers at road pedestrian crossings and raised its potential application to railway crossings: https://www.amy-smombies.com/.

Ms Jezze Jao, Waze for Cities Lead, and Ms Dani Simons, Global Head of Public Partnerships at Waze, presented the idea of Waze providing LC users with the location and distance of all level crossings in the world.
In August 2020, Waze had launched a new app which raised an alert for drivers providing the location and distance of all railway crossings in the USA, Canada, Belgium and France.

Mr Spence summarised the ELCF meeting and said that the level crossing safety issue was a never-ending and daily effort: a cyclist had been killed that very day in the UK. There had been some very interesting presentations at the meeting and he was especially pleased to note that ELCF had become more global than European, with participants from all around the globe.

The second part of the meeting was dedicated to enforcement, education/awareness and ILCAD

Mr Keith Pollock, Level Crossing Risk Manager at Translink (Northern Ireland Railways), presented his company, LC safety in his country, and enforcement and education initiatives in his company.

Ms Pavlina Skladana, Researcher at CDV (Czech Transport Research Centre), presented a flyer published in the various languages spoken by truck drivers crossing the country to make them aware of the dangers and specificities of level crossings in the Czech Republic.

Ms Isabelle Fonverne, UIC Safety Senior Advisor, informed participants that:

  • During ILCAD 2019, UIC and ILCAD partners had used three videos produced in the Czech Republic by the Ministry of Transport and CDV providing safety advice to truck drivers in emergency situations. These were available on the ILCAD YouTube playlist http://bit.ly/2WCBo2m or on the ILCAD YouTube channel https://youtu.be/E4L02BEFwTs

She also shared information on ILCAD 2020 and 2021:

  • Because of the Covid-19 outbreak, ILCAD 2020 had still taken place but in a lighter format, mainly on social media.
  • Despite the cancellation of the ILCAD 2020 face-to-face launch conference in York, a first online world conference had been organised for 11 June 2020 in English.
    Key information:
  • 180 participants from over 40 countries in Europe, Australasia, the Middle East, Africa, and North, Central and South America.
  • Very successful in the media and on social networks.
  • Very positive feedback via email.
  • More info here: https://bit.ly/2BevT4k
  • A second ILCAD conference had taken place later the same day in Spanish. This had been co-organised by UIC and the University of Technology (UTN-BA) of Buenos Aires, together with the Argentinian Institute of railways.
    Key information:
    • 400 participants from Central and South American countries, USA and Spain had streamed the conference live.
    • Speakers: UIC on ILCAD and colleagues from FFE and ADIF.
    • Very successful in the media and on social networks.
    • Link to conference: https://bit.ly/3midndG
  • Regarding the ILCAD 2021 campaign (www.ilcad.org), the following issues needed consideration:
    • Public to target, theme, motto
    • Communication supports:
    • Posters, videos, etc.
    • Questionnaire to get LC safety-related figures:
    • Number of LCs, types of LC, etc.
    • Accidents, incidents, number of victims, category of victims, etc.
  • The ILCAD 2021 launch conference would take place face-to-face at the National Museum of Railways in York at the kind invitation of Network Rail.

Mr Nicolas Raynal, UIC Terminologist, presented the “UIC online RailLexic” to see how ELCF could contribute to UIC’s online “LEVEL CROSSINGS” term bank, which contained 23 languages & 105 fields.
RailLexic was a language tool for engineers, translators and railway fans, i.e. anyone dealing with rail terms, particularly at an international level. Links: https://uic.org/support-activities/terminology/ and https://www.shop-etf.com/en/terminology.

Ms Fonverne finished by providing general information on UIC:

The preliminary calendar for ELCF/ILCAD 2021 meetings was set as follows:

  • 18 March 2021: 25th ELCF online spring meeting (tbc)
  • 10 June 2021: ILCAD campaign + ILCAD 2021 launch conference at the National Railway Museum of York, UK at the invitation of Network Rail (2020 edition postponed)
  • 11 June 2021: LC technical visit in York, UK
  • 4-5 November 2021: 26th ELCF plenary face-to-face meeting (date and location tbc)

For information:

  • 30 November 2020: “First webinar on safety including LCs” organised by UIC Region “Middle East”. Link: https://bit.ly/3fwYMsk.

For further information, please contact Isabelle Fonverne, UIC Senior Advisor, Safety and Interoperability: fonverne@uic.org

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Mr. Allan Spence