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Safer European Level Crossing Appraisal and Technology

Final Report Summary - SELCAT (Safer European Level Crossing Appraisal and Technology)

The main objective of the SELCAT project was to collect and disseminate knowledge related to level crossing risk appraisal, technology and methodology. A key objective of the SELCAT project was the requirement to provide a study of advanced technologies which could then be used in practice for the reduction of existing risk. It aimed to contribute actively to the reduction of level crossing accidents by the:
- collection, analysis and dissemination of existing research results and the stimulation of new knowledge exchange in the area of safety at the road / rail interface;
- creation of circumstances whereby European partners, in the rail and road sectors, can make a significant contribution to the reduction of accidents, injuries and fatalities at level crossings;
- understanding and codifying of existing and planned research;
- comparison and harmonisation of data sources;
- exploration of new technologies and harnessing appraisal techniques to optimise these.

As a first step an overview of the relevant advanced technologies was produced. A generic functional model of the level crossing system was then developed to allow a structured classification of the level crossing technologies on one hand and for investigation of their potential for risk reduction on the other. Advanced technologies were evaluated in relation to their capability of implementing additional functions of level crossing protection systems or to extend existing systems. Further activities focused on the evaluation of results of a specific case study on obstacle detection and on the integration of this technology into railway operational processes. At the same time measures for promoting the human awareness of safety at level crossings were investigated. These were based on the psychological aspects of human behaviour on the approaches to level crossings.

The project was structured into four work packages (WPs), as follows:

WP1: Level crossing appraisal.
The goal of WP1, led by the International Union of Railways (UIC), was to provide an overview of existing and planned European level crossing research, the actual risk at level crossings, and a summary of the existing and relevant legislative backgrounds. Level crossing risk appraisal procedures address, in particular, methods of safety performance monitoring, and thus enable the evaluation of the main operational risks of different kinds of railway crossings. All the relevant information has been collected by the use of the SELCAT knowledge management system, based on a generic functional structure. A further refinement of the basic structure of static operational aspects was then undertaken to make the different approaches more specific.

WP2: Level crossing technology.
The main goal of WP2, led by the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research (INRETS), was to analyse the relevant national and European projects that have identified new technologies for the improvement of level crossing safety. The aim of this work package was to provide a study of particular technological solutions to reduce the numbers of accidents at level crossings. The first task of WP2 was to provide a suitable generic functional model of a level crossing, which could be refined according to the particular implementation technology in use. A further task had the objective of extending the study by providing a set of recommendations to suggest how to increase users' human awareness and compliance with the level crossing safety system.

WP3: Level crossing methodology.
The objective of WP3 was to identify the different types of modelling techniques that could be used to analyse level crossing risk (including their dependence on manufacturing and operational costs). Different countries have different types and numbers of crossings; different degrees of level crossing safety risk; different traffic volumes; and varying cultures, including attitudes to risk and road and rail safety. Accordingly they have different approaches, practices and legislative frameworks for managing risk. Twenty three approaches to level crossing modelling and assessment have been identified across twelve countries. Another task of WP3 was to investigate the applicability of the methods for cost-benefit Analysis for level crossing design and improvements concerning the introduction of advanced technologies. The task was initiated by an overview of methods dealing with efficiency evaluation. The main parts of cost-benefit analysis were identified: the analysis of the quantitative risk, economic analysis and social analysis. To demonstrate the use of the methodology, the example of automatic half barrier crossing has been, again, applied.

WP4: Results dissemination.
The goal of WP4 was to ensure the public dissemination of the SELCAT results. Along with the launching of a level crossing web portal, theme specific workshops and special sessions at theme-related conferences were organised. Further means of disseminating the SELCAT results was preparation of a prototype campaign for car drivers and other road users.

Evaluating results and recommendations from the work packages has identified two areas with the potential for standardisation in the future. The first item is based on the evaluation of level crossing legislation during which it was realised that there are significant differences in road driver responsibilities between the member states. The second item concerns the evaluation of the level crossing risk. In order to provide similar safety conditions at all European level crossings it is sensible to harmonise risk assessment methodologies. Based on the conclusion that the statistically oriented risk modelling identified by SELCAT is the best risk assessment methodology, this should be widely adopted.

With the current projected levels of growth of both road and rail traffic, the project identified that the risk potential at the road / rail interface will also grow and whilst grade separation should be the long term aspiration, it is only a matter of time before the key players (road, rail, enforcement, EC, state governments etc) must come together to address more immediate risk control options in a joined up way. To contribute to the development of this the SELCAT consortium agreed that development of a cross-sector strategy for level crossing risk in Europe is necessary. Such a strategy would facilitate a greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities and the risks that the various actors are required to manage and how these can be brought together to the mutual advantage of all the key players. The achievements outlined have been documented in form of project deliverables accessible directly on the web portal.