The International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD) spearheaded by UIC was established in 2009 at the initiative of the ELCF group (European Level Crossing Forum) composed of actors of different sectors: rail, road, human factors, researchers exchanging their best practices in terms of safety at level crossings, mainly through Engineering, Enforcement and Education measures. ILCAD is part of the Education theme, and has reached a global level with more than 40 participating countries.
9 years later the ILCAD Task Force is preparing the 10th edition of ILCAD to be held on 7 June 2018; the launch international conference will be hosted by HZ INFRA and the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences in Croatia.
On 1 December 2017, the ILCAD task force met in Paris, at SNCF Réseau, for a debriefing meeting of ILCAD 2017 and the preparation of the 2018 edition with more than 30 participants representing 15 countries.
The group had the opportunity to participate in a technical visit at the level crossing of “Deuil-la-Barre” thanks to an invitation of SNCF. Virginie Taillandier, Smart Crossing Project Manager at SNCF presented the most dangerous level crossing in France with the highest rail and road traffic: 188 trains per day (regional & suburban trains), 7100 cars and more than 3500 pedestrians using it a day. The trains run at a speed of 90km/h and cars at 50km/h and is situated between two towns with a lot of buses, shops and high schools in the neighborhood. This automatic level crossing with 4 half barriers, 6 lights and a bell, saw at least 60 collisions (5 with trains) and 1 fatality from 2006 to 2016, due to blocking back road traffic and pedestrians crossing under the barriers.
It was decided through a long term work programme to close the level crossing in 2022, works starting in 2020. An underpass for pedestrians will be constructed and the road traffic will be diverted to a bridge constructed in another part of the town for a total cost of 16 million euros.
There have been a lot of improvements such as a red-light enforcement camera, yellow braces, anti-intrusion panels, police officers posted at the level crossing at peak hours mainly for teenagers going to school or back to the station, and soon the shortening of the platforms. But in a few years this dangerous level crossing will be completely closed.
All the ILCAD partners attending the meeting had then the opportunity to explain their national campaign during ILCAD 2017. LDz (Latvian Railways), that hosted ILCAD 2016 explained that there are no fences along the tracks in Latvia, pedestrians can cross wherever they want, and in this dangerous context, the use of mobile phones is the main cause of accidents. They decided to reach young people through a song interpreted by famous pop music singers. There are 2 million inhabitants in Latvia, according to a survey conducted after the campaign, LDz may confirm that more than 1 million inhabitants know the song, it was in the TOP 10 in the songs of Latvia in 2016 the song is still played today. Consequently they also may say that the number of accidents decreased by 50 % since this campaign.
CFL Cargo, Luxemburg Railways, explained the plan of the company to progressively eliminate level crossings. Meanwhile they use massive awareness communication supports: leaflets distributed, drawing contests, videoclips…
In Austria, ÖBB Infra uses a lot of awareness videos on the following topics: braking distance, car crash simulations between cars and trains, and the encouragement of drivers to break the barriers to save their lives. This year they focused on driving schools with a special train ride organised for them to become more aware of the dangers.
There was a mention to UIC/IRU/OLE that produced the 3 LC safety guidances to raise awareness about level crossing safety amongst transport professionals. The 3 flyers exist now in 12 languages: http://www.ilcad.org/LC-Safety-Tips.html
Then Lithuanian Railways (LG) presented their campaign with a special focus on suicides and copycat effects. The country has the highest rate of suicide in Europe. They have decided to tackle that issue, and wish to exchange and profit from the experience of other railways. There was a mention to RESTRAIL project and its toolbox offering some best practices on this issue http://www.restrail.eu/
In the same vein Network Rail presented a video that became very famous in England: “Small talk saves life” based on a real story and filming the live reactions of real passengers: https://youtu.be/KiynAdEuyWQ
HZ Infrastructure and the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Transport and road sciences presented the communication means that they are already using such as competitions in schools, workshops in driving schools, virtual reality application, surveys, exhibitions, super heroes and funny characters… And their plan for 2018, as hosts of ILCAD next year in Zagreb on 7 June, dedicated to young level crossing users.
Isabelle Fonverne gave an overview of ILCAD 2017 in other countries that were not represented at the meeting.
She also reported on the prize won by KiwiRail: https://youtu.be/PDUn7gNfCas and the special mention for Tracksafe: https://youtu.be/Ge__TTLAK0k, two ILCAD partners, at the UIC rail film festival on 29 November in Lisbon, in the Safety & Security Category.