Lorry at Level Crossing at Claremount in Dublin
On International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD), Iarnród Éireann has called for greater vigilance by those who use railway level crossings, whether in urban or rural environments, as incidents so far this year have surged by 82%.
In 2018 there were 81 incidents at level crossings, the majority of which were level crossing barriers being struck by vehicles which continued over the level crossing, even though the barriers were lowering and the warning lights were flashing.
These incidents can cause significant disruption to rail services, and also place both the road user and railway users at serious risk.
However, there has been a significant growth in incidents recorded so far this year, with 51 incidents at level crossings across the network, an 82% increase on the same period last year, which is extremely worrying.
Video clips show extremely serious incidents that have occurred recently at various level crossings across the network.
One incident happened during an afternoon at Barberstown, near Straffan only two weeks ago.
Sutton Station barrier alone has been struck 10 times already this year.
Other level crossings that have been regularly struck include Serpentine Avenue, Sydney Parade and Lansdowne Road.
All of these are equipped with licence plate recognition systems to assist in prosecutions of offenders.
International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD) is a UIC (International Railway Union) initiative to encourage members of the public to be vigilant when using level crossings to cross the railway.
There are currently 948 level crossings on the Iarnród Éireann network.
These are a combination of automated CCTV crossings, manned crossing and unmanned user operated accommodation crossings.
As part of our network wide Level crossing elimination programme, Iarnród Éireann is working to eliminate as many level crossings as practicable.
The company has closed 63 crossings between 2014 and 2018.
Iarnród Éireann is currently in advanced stages of securing approval from the Commission for Rail Regulation (CRR) for a new technological safety solution at a number of user-operated level crossings.
The system involves a type of traffic light system, to warn users when there is a train approaching.
The first crossings will have the technology in place by the end of this year.
However, the company reminds users of the onus to use crossings responsibly:
- At automatic crossings: stop safely when the warning lights begin to flash. Never go through crossings when barriers are about to lower, or lowering.
At staff operated crossings: respect gatekeepers, whose role is to ensure your safety and that of rail users. Stop immediately when the gatekeeper requests it.
At user operated crossings: Always stop before crossing to check the line, check the line again after crossing, and always close the gate after use for your safety and that of others.
Level crossing accidents account for 1.2% of road deaths in Europe but 29% of all rail fatalities.
Although Ireland’s record is far stronger than the European average, and there have been no level crossing fatalities since 2010, vigilance is essential and Iarnród Éireann are bringing the message of International Level Crossing Awareness Day to Irish crossing users. The theme for this year is ‘The most important stop of the day’.
Jim Meade, Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann said: “The theme for this year for International Level Crossing Awareness Day could not be more relevant. With the alarming increase in incidents at level crossings. I am appealing to all road users, be they motorists, pedestrians or cyclists to stop at level crossings. We are working to make user operated level crossings safer with new technology, but the majority of these incidents are occurring at automated level crossings in built up areas, where there is ample warning that the level crossing is coming into operation. Do not take chances at Level Crossings, it could end in tragedy.”
The Commissioner for Rail Regulation, Brian Higgisson said: “The Commission for Railway Regulation, supports the call for greater vigilance at railway level crossings. It is concerned by the big rise in railway level crossing incidents this year. Drivers and pedestrians using level crossings have a duty to protect their own safety and the safety of railway users.”