On 2-3 April, the 9th meeting of the European Level Crossing Forum held was held in Vienna, hosted by the Austrian Ministry of Transport.
Since 2005, this forum has brought together rail and highway safety experts from Europe and beyond as well as a number of European instances including the European Railway Agency or the European Transport Safety Council, in order to exchange information, provide experience on the management, performance and key safety issues concerning the “at-grade rail/road interface”.
On the governance side, Simon Fletcher, Coordinator Europe for UIC, active member of the forum, presented the revised charter including the necessary aspects to organise, strengthen the ELCF team and broaden its capabilities as the forum raises more and more interest and gathers a growing number of participants.
UIC also presented an action plan focusing on a number of key questions such as the engagement of key parties, better enforcement to cultivate a systematic approach to code of the route violations and education, as users behaviour at and around level crossings cause almost all accidents and fatalities.
Indeed, following the necessity to develop public awareness on the misuse of level crossings, a number of projects were presented by Ilyas Daoud, Interfaces Coordinator, including:
The recent signature of the European Road Safety Charter by ELCF together with the rail associations CER, EIM and UIC to increase visibility in its commitment to contribute to overall reduction of traffic safety risks, and publish safety information toward users, which is one of the goals of the forum.
The new ELCF website managed by the UIC and the Technical University of Braunschweig (TUBS) to become a platform of accurate, detailed information on good practices insisting on education of users, promoting events and meetings around the questions on level crossings, available at www.levelcrossing.net
The organisation of the European Awareness Day at level crossings based on national initiatives to help raise awareness of the critical risks at the road/rail interface faced by the rail community and developing the concept of a multi-modal approach to address the issues. This project involves currently 20 European countries and a number of European instances including the European Commission.
The meeting was followed by various presentations on technical questions including signage, use of traffic control lights, human factors issues at level crossings, or on the cost analysis of LX accidents. Good practices on maintenance were underlined as a key question to be dealt shortly. Therefore, a number of projects and subgroups have been identified and will be formally approved and created at the next steering committee to be held in June. The steering committee is also to conclude the debate on the charter and approve the action plan.
The next plenary meeting of ELCF will be held in October and hosted by the UIC in Paris.