A great number of high level experts from the European road and rail sectors and ministries of transport from most EU countries, police forces, international organisations (UN-ECE, UIC, CER, EIM, ETSC), universities (TÜBs), governmental organisations (RSSB), EU institutions (DG Move, Eurostat, ERA) attended the EC “Workshop on level crossing safety”, organised by the DG Move (Road Safety) of the European Commission Mobility and Transport on 15th & 16th April 2010 in Brussels. This workshop was perfectly in line with the EU approach Road Safety as it covered their two guiding principles: shared responsibility and integrated approach.
Every year in the European Union, several hundreds of road users die in accidents at level crossings. Level crossings belong to both the rail and the road network, but as Mr. Enrico Grillo-Pasquarelli underlined in his welcome address: “Most of those accidents are due to misbehaviour of road users. Beyond the human and social costs of each and every road accident, accidents at level crossings have a heavy cost in economic terms: the train traffic is interrupted for a long period, damages to the rail network can be important and sometimes the environmental consequences are devastating”. Level crossing accidents have a specific feature, and can be compared to no other category of road accidents and therefore, deserve a specific and targeted action. All stakeholders must take their responsibilities in road safety not only public authorities but also public and private road and rail companies and citizens (road users).
He reminded what has been done so far in level crossing safety:
- The SELCAT funded research project, which was a coordinated action of the European Commission’s 6th Framework Programme involving 24 partners from Europe, Asia and Africa dedicated to collect, structure, cluster, analyze and disseminate existing world-wide research results to stimulate new knowledge exchange in the area of level crossing safety http://www.iva.ing.tu-bs.de/levelcrossing/selcat/
- The European Level Crossing Awareness Day (ELCAD) launched on 25th June 2009 by the railway community namely the UIC. Many partners from the road and the rail participated in this campaign even outside Europe (Israel, Australia, South Africa, Argentina and the USA).
- ELCAD has got such a great success that UIC and their partners (namely DG Move) decided to continue this awareness campaign now named ILCAD because of its world-wide dimension. The future event will take place on 22nd June 2010.
- The European Level Crossing Forum (ELCF) whose Chairman is Alan Davies email@example.com and the Secretatiat is ensured by the UIC firstname.lastname@example.org is developing a European road / rail interface strategy.
- The European representatives or rail stakeholders have together signed a commitment (including the UIC on 20th March 2009) within the framework of the European Road Safety Charter.
Finally the European Railway Agency gives now a specific attention to level crossing safety.
The workshop was built around 3 key issues that contribute to reduce accidents on level crossings, the 3 E’s: Engineering, Enforcement and Education + Policy.
Around 15 presentations have been made on these 4 topics.
Amongst which in the first panel “Policy” moderated by Libor Lochman (CER Deputy Executive Director):
- Virginia Tanase, Economic Affairs Officer (Road transport, Road traffic safety at UN-ECE in Geneva) made a very interesting presentation on “UN rules and best practices” and particularly the Vienna convention on road signs and signals and the convention on road traffic.
- Kirsi Pajunen / Safety Unit of ERA presented the European level crossing accident statistics whilst warning that they should rather serve as a comparative indicator than any absolute scale. She also pointed out that it is up to the Member States to set and monitor the safety targets.
- Philippe Feltz, RFF (France): The French infrastructure manager together with regional and local authorities have set up an the investment programme aiming in significant decrease of level crossing accidents by closing the most critical level crossings, setting up additional signalling equipment on heavy used level crossings, equipping non-protected level crossing in the case of higher train speed.
- Michael Woods (RSSB, U.K.) presented the road traffic signs and signals. He underlined that almost all level crossing accidents are caused by road users. He also made clear that the current level crossing signage was developed long before the human factors have been systematically taken into account. This might lead to a need to re-assess the currently used signage.
In the second panel “Enforcement” moderated by Jürgen Menge (Transport Ministry, Rheinland / Pfalz, Germany) three presentations were made by
- Gary Clark, Chief Inspector at the British Transport Police (BTP, U.K.),
- Belkacem Laimouche (expert at SETRA: Technical Department for Transport, Roads and Bridges Engineering and Road Safety of the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and the Sea)
- Graham Verschaeve (Superintendent, Belgian Railway Police)
In the third panel “Engineering” moderated by Hans-Jörg Manz, SELCAT Project coordinator, TÜBS Technische Universität Braunschweig, Germany), three presentations from:
- Jürgen Menge (Ministry of Transport, Rheinland / Pfalz, Germany)
- Belkacem Laimouche (SETRA, France)
- Olle Mornell (TRAFIKVERKET, Sweden)
In the final panel “Education” moderated by Simon Fletcher, UIC Coordinator Europe there were 5 presentations from
- Virginie Papillault, UIC Senior Advisor on Human Factors
- Ilyas Daoud, Project Officer (ETSC, Brussels)
- Tamo Vahemets (Operational Life Saver, Estonia)
- Katarzyna Wierzajtys, Public campaign coordinator, Information and Promotion Office at PKP Polskie Linie Kolejowe S.A. in Poland
- Philippe Feltz (RFF, France)
All presentations will be published on the European Commission’s website
Following these high level and interesting presentations made in the Commission’s workshop the ELCF (European Level Crossing Forum) Steering Committee chaired exceptionally by Simon Fletcher met in a restricted group to debrief on the workshop and to decide on further steps.
An ELCF plenary meeting is foreseen on 18th June 2010 in Brussels and the follow up of this “EC Workshop on level crossings” has been put on the agenda.