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Safer European Level Crossing Appraisal and Technology

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Level crossing safety study

An EU project has drawn up a report on how safety at road-rail level crossings can be improved. The researchers drew on worldwide accident statistics, safety-related projects and new technology for the in-depth analysis.

Climate Change and Environment

Every year in the EU, more than 330 people are killed in some 1,200 accidents at road-rail level crossings. Not surprisingly, level crossings have been pinpointed as a particular weak spot in road infrastructure. The EU-funded 'Safer European level crossing appraisal and technology' (Selcat) project aimed to reduce the risk at these junctions. A multidisciplinary group including engineers, railway safety and road systems experts put together the study so all European stakeholders can be in a position to contribute to the reduction of accidents at level crossings. All relevant information was collected by the Selcat knowledge management system, which operates generically. The data was then analysed, compared, codified, harmonised and disseminated. The Selcat team explored new technologies and evaluated their application for an increase in safety. Development of a generic model of a functional level crossing helped in the assessment of technological solutions. Conditions between different countries were taken into account in analyses of level crossing risk. These included dependence on manufacturing and operational costs, type, degree of risk, traffic volume, cultural factors including attitude to risk taking, and road and rail safety. In all, researchers identified 23 approaches to level crossing modelling and assessment across 12 countries. A highly important factor is the human element. Measures to promote awareness were investigated and analysed using the psychology of human behaviour at approaches to crossings. Proposals included how to increase compliance with level crossing safety rules. Dissemination was achieved through the project website, workshops and conferences. A prototype for a campaign aimed at car drivers was also prepared. Recommendations include the standardisation of level crossing legislation as there is a wide range of responsibility for drivers between states. Moreover, to provide the same level of safety at all crossings, harmonisation of risk assessment methodologies was strongly advised. At a time when both road and rail use is set to increase, the Selcat consortium has made it clear to all stakeholders that development of new cross-sector strategy for safety is necessary. The Selcat analysis will go a long way to making this recommendation a reality.

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