Tuesday 2 April 2019

21st European Level Crossing Forum (ELCF) Plenary Meeting held on 26 March 2019 in Paris

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The meeting was attended by 46 people from 16 different countries including USA and Australia as well as 15 speakers following the UIC Workshop on “Trespassing and suicide prevention” held on 25 March.

Jeroen Nederlof, ProRail, also Chairman of ELCF welcome all participants for his last meeting. He announced his retirement from 1 July after the ILCAD 2019 launch conference hosted by his company ProRail. This is why UIC had launched a call for candidates end of 2018. Mr Allan Spence, Head of Corporate Passenger & Public Safety at Network Rail is one the candidates who applied. He was confirmed and warmly applauded by the participants as the new Chairman of ELCF as from 1 July 2019.
The next ELCF meeting should take place in the autumn 2019 in a hosting ELCF member country.

Then Jeroen Nederlof gave the results of a questionnaire carried out in different countries on “visible markings on freight trains” to increase visibility mainly at passive crossings.
FRA in the USA have worked a lot on this particular issue, we should profit from the results of their work and see if our members are interested in this solution.

Then Jeroen Nederlof proposed to organise a questionnaire on level crossing barriers closure time which is very different from country to country.
A questionnaire on this issue had been prepared within the UIC coordinated project “SAFER-LC”. It was proposed to enlarge this questionnaire and send it to ELCF members.

Grigore Havarneanu, Research Advisor, UIC Security Division, gave a summary of the workshop on trespassing and suicides held on 25 March at UIC HQ. It was decided to organise such a workshop to see how to follow up the RESTRAIL project and its toolbox completed in 2014: http://www.restrail.eu/toolbox/
He then presented SAFER-LC project http://safer-lc.eu/ There is a focus on technical solutions, on human processes. He presented the SAFER-LC toolbox which will be conceived in the same manner as the RESTRAIL toolbox but more collaborative, user-friendly. He mentioned the tests carried out from November 2018 with an app installed by CERTH (member of the Safer-LC project) in over 100 taxi cars to warn them of the approach of a train in Thessaloniki. The results are promising.

Allan Spence, Head of Corporate Passenger & Public Safety at Network Rail gave an overview on risks at LCs in Great Britain. Even if there are excellent safety records at LCs in GB the highest risks are mainly at automatic half barrier crossings with many near misses. He presented the solutions considered to improve those half barrier crossings through engineering solutions, red light enforcement cameras and of course education.

Pasi Lautala, Michigan Technology University – USA, Associate Professor, Director, Rail Transportation Program presented “Driver behaviour at level crossings – In-Vehicle Auditory Alerts and Naturalistic Driving Data research in the USA”
Accidents at LC in the USA have decreased a lot since the 1980s but tend to be stable from the last 6 – 7 years. 94% of train-vehicle collisions are attributed to driver behaviour according to the FRA.
Passive crossings are 10 times “riskier” but…there is an increasing number of accidents taking place at “active warning” crossings. He explained the results of a research project on human behaviour to improve this.

Mr Ramón Atochero Velasco, Expert level crossings, ADIF gave an overview of its situation, automatic protection system, data recorder system and R&D project on new technologies, obstacle detection system, and CCTV cameras.

Mr Jarmo Koistinen, Transport and Environmental Safety, Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency explained the Finnish “65-Level Crossing Safety program”
He explained that after a collision between a (DMU) train and a military lorry on 26.10.2017 and the fuss around it in the media, the Finnish Ministry of transport put pressure on FTIA to close or upgrade level crossings.
FTIA ranked a certain number of LCs to consider and it was decided to close 65 LCs of them, add cost effective warning systems at 35 LCs on one railway line. Finally, they removed 96 LCs instead of 65, installed barriers at 35 and improved 58 LCs. Many others should be removed by 2021.

Mr Ryutaro UENISHI Senior Manager, West Japan Railway Company presented Innovative efforts against LC accidents”
Since 1987 the number of LC accidents have continuously dropped by more than 80% in 30 years. 144 collisions in 1987 ⇒24 accidents in 2017.
Main reasons: LC removals, passive crossings upgraded into active LC; 3D laser
radar type obstacle detectors, emission of a warning through a radio message to the train
driver warning him of an obstacle on the tracks, smart level crossing system to reduce the
closure time of barriers.

Mr Dave Farman IDS presented the solutions for infrastructure optimisation of basic, standardised, rationalised, dynamic and dynamic rationalised LC types.
Radar and lidar OD are probably the future solutions. Obstacle detectors are used in Japan, Germany, Italy, UK …
Some obstacle detectors detect only vehicles, and some others detect standing or lying down persons, adults and children.

Isabelle Fonverne, UIC, presented on behalf of the UIC digital division the DIGIM programme (Digital impacts on business process) which consists of three projects, two of them related to safety at level crossings and safety of blind passengers inside railway stations. Watch the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt5c21gBUA4&t=2s

Mr Alain Autruffe, Director LC Programme at SNCF Réseau, and Mr Frédéric Hénon, Manager Dept. System Safety at DG Safety of SNCF.
There are 15000 LC in France. Closing or upgrading all level crossings is not possible, because it is long and very costly. Therefore, there is a need to rank LCs to establish a priority for investments according to certain criteria determined by SNCF.
Some measures are then identified according to the type of crossings. The study helps answering how to optimise the use of available investments forces, to reduce the number of victims at LCs.

Rebecca Warren, Inspector, Fatality Management and Disruption Team at British Transport Police (BTP) explained how to work in partnership with Network Rail to improve safety at level crossings. BTP have embedded Officers at NR. They work at local level with NR LC Managers to deal with localised problems. On a national level they work together on joint campaigns such as Op look and NR led campaigns. Of course, they join NR for the ILCAD campaign each year.

Nikos Kondilas, OSE-Head of Electrification dept and Kostas Kapetanidis, RAS- Head of internal audit presented their “Guide for safe living with the Railway Network for students”. They explained the campaigns carried out for young people on level crossing safety and on the dangers of electrification: nine young people were killed by electrification in eight years. They distributed safety flyers to children, teenagers, drivers, pedestrians. They posted signs at stations. They used ILCAD videos and posters plus pictograms of the UIC/IRU safety tips http://www.ilcad.org/LC-Safety-Tips.html.
From December 2018 until today 4400 students have been informed through their awareness sessions.

Erwin Woord, Communication Advisor, Prorail gave practical information on the ILCAD 2019 launch conference hosted by ProRail in Amersfoort on 5 to 7 June including an international conference on the 6th and a technical visit on the 7th. More info: www.ilcad.org

Isabelle Fonverne, UIC Senior Advisor Safety gave an overview of ILCAD 2018 and more details on the ILCAD 2019 worldwide campaign.
The public to target this year: Professional drivers.
The motto: The most important stop of the day!
UIC produced 10 posters with different professional vehicles at level crossings representing various countries. They will be released in various languages and available for ILCAD partners to use in their own language and add their logos.
A video compiling footage of collisions with professional vehicles plus an awareness video should also be available free of charge.
To register for the conference, social events, and technical visit, click here
https://bit.ly/2VlyZrZ Deadline: 26 April 2019
To submit an abstract click here https://bit.ly/2TjMXgx Deadline: 5 April 2019
All other information: venue, list of hotels, are available here: www.ilcad.org

Finally Isabelle Fonverne and Lauren Benoit, UIC Documentation Centre
informed members that UIC created a playlist called “Safety” within the UIC Video library to make videos available for our members. The videos sent by our members will focus on safety issues for internal and external communication purposes: awareness of dangers on platforms, at level crossings, when trespassing, dangers of electrification, safety of our passengers, safety of railway staff and subcontractors. If you are interested contact us to know about the criteria of submission.
They also reported on a UIC Safety Film festival to be hosted at UIC HQ, on the occasion of our safety platform on 6 November 2019. Further information will be published later.

In the meantime, for more information on ELCF:

For further information please contact Isabelle Fonverne, Senior Advisor, Safety and Interoperability:


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From left to right: Allan Spence, Future ELCF Chairman; Isabelle Fonverne, UIC; Jeroen Nederlof, PRORAIL and current ELCF Chairman