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10th World Symposium on Level Crossing Safety and Trespass Prevention, UIC HQ Paris, 24th - 27th June 2008

The 10th global event based on the management of the issues associated with the road/rail interface was held at the UIC between 24th and 27th June 2008. Drawing together over 150 participants from 37 countries, the conference heard papers form 32 speakers structured around risk management, human issues, the road/rail interface and a strategic vision. The main thrust of the event was one of cooperative initiatives, these being the only way to overcome this high risk interface issue for rail. Development of a joint working approach with the other key players – road, government, manufacturing (road and rail), insurance, law enforcement… in order to develop a strategy that sets out to ensure that rail is able to maintain its current high levels of safety is central to this. Delegates came from railway undertakings, infrastructure managers, government agencies, police forces and manufacturers from road and rail sectors alike as well as research institutes and academia. The event was preceded on Monday 23rd June by a workshop dedicated to the final outputs from the SELCAT SELCAT Safer European Level Crossing Apraisal and Technology project that had been funded by the European Union. Delegates to LX 2008 (as it became known) were welcomed by the event chairman Simon Fletcher – Senior Safety and Interoperability Manager based at the UIC’s offices in Brussels. He welcomed a distinguished panel of keynote speakers to address the delegates as part of the opening ceremony and to set the scene including Luc Aliadière UIC CEO ; Luc Bourdon Director Safety, Transport Canada (and representing the organisers of the previous event in 2006) ; Patrick Trannoy, Deputy CEO, RFF ; Professor Andrew Evans, Imperial College London and European Transport Safety Council and Jean-Paul Repussard, DGTREN (EC). This panel was facilitated by Anders Lundström, Head of Safety Unit, European Rail Agency. In their various addresses, the members of the panel emphasised the notion that with around ¼ of all fatal accidents involving rail coming through the acts or omissions of third parties such as road users, there is a real issue that needs to be addressed. The rail community, often the victim of the circumstance, cannot do this in isolation but can and must engage in a coordinated manner with all the key players to ensure that this risk is being addressed in a multi-modal way. Convincing these other players to come to the table and discuss what society still labels as a “rail problem” is one of the core challenges ; several ideas were considered at conference and will be the subject of a range of “next steps” : o the UIC with the CER CER Community of the European Railways will develop the relationship between the rail sector in Europe and the EC via the roads unit at DGTREN, o this relationship will consider amongst other things the development of a road/rail strategy for Europe – a joint initiative of the UIC and the SELCAT partners o consider the possibility of an educational programme such as can be found with Operation Lifesaver in the USA and Canada and building on the success of national programmes in Europe (OLA, Don’t Run the Risk…) o recognise that the harmonisation of the legislative background for level crossings might be better served by taking a close look at the content of the Vienna Convention that celebrates its 40th anniversary in November this year At a global level the success of Operation Lifesaver (represented at conference by Helen Sramek (USA) and Dan DiTota (Canada)) has been recognised by, amongst others, the Australian road and rail community who have developed a road/rail interface strategy and have developed a National Behavioural Programme. Phil Sochon, Deputy CEO, Australasian Railway Association ; Derek Williams, Chair ALCSIG and Terry Spicer, Level Crossings Coordinator, State Government of Victoria highlighted the start that they have made in addressing this core issue and drawing together the main actors. The delegates agreed that education is a critical aspect of communicating the message to the users who are the ones contributing the greatest level of cause. One of the most important aspects of an educational campaign is not only the joint involvement of the road and rail sectors in driving down instances of level crossing and trespass violations but also the involvement of the insurance sector, government agencies… in playing their role in educating people to realise the risks they are running by not obeying the rules and principles of being in close proximity to the railway. Other key contributions came in the form of a round table on the issues of human involvement in the road/rail interface and why is it that people trespass or try to run the barriers, or race the train…. Mike Lowenger, Vice President, Railway Association of Canada introduced this subject and especially welcomed Virginie Papillaut, Ergonomics Advisor, UIC as well as the other human factors specialists at the event. As well as the formal papers, the symposium dedicated over 5 hours to open debate spread over the three days, an allowance that was much appreciated by the delegates judging by the variety and indeed complexity of the subjects discussed. At the end of the event, it was a privilege for Simon Fletcher to invite the delegation from East Japan Railways to announce that the 11th Symposium will be held in Tokyo from 26th (Tuesday) to 29th (Friday) October 2010. LX 2008 marked an important step forward for the UIC in its bid to support the world’s rail community in developing a cohesive road/rail interface strategy. The UIC team is going to be strengthened by the recruitment of a project officer based in the Brussels office and in place to assist the development of dialogue between the rail and road communities and the other key actors. The European Level Crossing Research Forum (ELCRF) will be taking an in-depth look at all the possibilities when it next meets (at the invitation of the Danish Roads Administration) in Copenhagen in October this year. The event was concluded by a technical visit organised by RFF to a site some 40 kms from Paris (Breuillet) where there is a particularly complex road layout at a busy road/rail intersection. The Mayor of the town was delighted to welcome the LX 2008 delegates to his town and was waiting on the station platform to personally welcome the group. The UIC are delighted to have been able to host this event and the organising team would like to thank everyone who contributed to making this global event such a success.

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