Wednesday 9 November 2011
Level Crossings

European Level Crossing Forum in Lisbon

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REFER in Lisbon hosted the last ELCF (European Level Crossing Forum) plenary meeting chaired by Alan Davies, RSSB, on 20 October, and a debriefing meeting on the success of ILCAD 2011 (International Level Crossing Awareness Day) chaired by Isabelle Fonverne, UIC Projects Officer Safety & Interoperability, ILCAD Coordinator, was held on 21 October 2011.

Mr Romeu Reis, REFER Board Member, welcomed all participants in the beautifully restored King’s Room of Lisbon’s Rossio Central Station and gave an introductory speech on REFER policy as far level crossing safety is concerned. Since 2005 REFER has managed to reduce the number of crossings by 50%. The number of accidents has reduced by 2/3 since 1999 (150 in 1999, 40 in 2010) due to level crossings being removed or upgraded. Nevertheless, even if engineering can always be improved, enforcement and education are also to be stressed jointly. REFER organised their first awareness campaign in 2009 (through ELCAD). REFER published the “Green Book” in 2010 which is the result of public enquiries related to level crossing awareness campaigns.

Tamo Vahemets, Operation Lifesaver Estonia, reported on the International Operation Lifesaver Conference “Let’s save life” in which Russians took part for the first time and Isabelle Fonverne, UIC, reported on the 2nd European Commission Workshop on level crossing safety, both events taking place in Tallinn in March 2011 (see e-news 229/

Alan Davies, RSSB, reported on the international conference on level crossing safety organised by the Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Railway Transport (AZP) held on 27 and 28 September 2011 in Maribor, Slovenia attended by more than 130 participants. Main figures to be retained: road accidents have reduced by 75% in Slovenia and they target zero accidents on the roads in the future. In 2010 they had 888 level crossings and 10 fatalities. Several national safety authorities attended the conference plus road companies from Slovenia (see e-news 259:

Kirsi Pajunen from ERA presented the ERA Safety Performance Report 2011 made on the basis of data given by NSAs and NIBs and the ERA level crossing investigations data. This was the last year that national definitions could be used. For future safety performance reports accident reporting is getting better since the use of common European definitions. For more information please also consult

Isabelle Fonverne, UIC, reported on the future UNECE multidisciplinary working party on safety at road rail interfaces of which the draft terms of reference have been presented to three different UNECE working parties (WP1, SC1 and SC2) for endorsement. Further information will be given early next year.

Michael Woods, RSSB, gave a presentation on level crossing and road signals: “Some 95% of the risk of accidents arises through some form of misuse by road users (including pedestrians) – split between a lack of understanding (errors) and wilful acts (violations). It is assumed that most of the risks caused by violations could not be addressed by better signs and signals, but that some of the errors could be prevented” he said.

Frederik Hoederman, Banedanmark, delivered a presentation on how to reduce road user risk behaviour at level crossings in Denmark. They have decided to close all unsecured crossings by 2020, upgrade others, create a risk analysis and international comparisons.

Helena Höök, Trafikverket Sweden, talked about the Road Traffic Safety Management System – Requirements with guidance for use – ISO/DIS 39001.
Alan Davies presented the current Network Rail strategy for reducing level crossing risk: research programmes to improve Engineering (joint inspections, obstacle detectors), Education: ILCAD, school visits, letters to private owners and information forums and finally Enforcement: through BTP (British Transport Police) using the vans equipped with video cameras parked at level crossings to film offenders at level crossings.

A session was then dedicated to enforcement with three presentations:
Carlos Matos Carvalho, REFER Security Director, explained that the Security Unit deals with safety and security of people and goods, (operational planning and risk analysis, incidents management, emergency management) and also with health safety in the work place. REFER worked together with the police forces and the railway operators during the ILCAD campaign to distribute leaflets to people.

Tamo Vahemets, CEO OL Estonia, talked about the information given by Operation Lifesaver to rescue people, policemen and education professionals to educate the public and children, as well as to work better together when an accident happens.

Katarzyna Kucharek, PKP PLK, presented the official procedure to cooperate with the police in cases of rail-road level crossing accidents in Poland, the different penalties given to offenders according to the offence and the active collaboration with the police forces during the education campaigns. PKP PLK introduced "safe Monday” concept during which police forces pay particular attention to trespassing.

Olle Mornell, Trafikverket in Sweden, is currently working on a project called “Drive through the barrier” to teach people what to do when they are trapped. Tests are currently being conducted.

On the second day we had a certain number of presentations showing the success of the ILCAD campaign in different countries on 9 June 2011.
Giedrius Judickas, Lithuanian Railways (LG), organised joint patrols with the police at level crossings to distribute leaflets to road users. They focused on the National Railway Museum as a venue for educational activities. Messages were displayed on passenger information monitors.

Tamo Vahemets reported on the ILCAD campaign organised by Operation Lifesaver in Estonia, USA and Canada:

USA: Trucking industry representatives, law enforcement organisations and railroad companies joined Operation Lifesaver officials at events to launch the Rail Safety Challenge program in Alabama, California, Mississippi, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Texas. Other Operation Lifesaver events were held throughout the week in 14 additional states. They launched the e-learning software on their website for professionnal drivers:

Canada: Operation Lifesaver partners, Railway Association of Canada members and Transport Canada ask parents, youth, teachers, emergency response providers and motorists to take responsibility for their safety around rail property and to learn more about common sense rail safety:

In Estonia, they displayed Sparky’s at every level crossing making people aware of the campaign, they organised a photo contest “Railway and I” published only on facebook but with great success: first place winners were given 1000 EUR. attracted much attention from the media.

Ivana Cubelic, Croatia (HZ), reported on their first ever participation in ILCAD. They used some celebrities (an Olympic medalist, a singer …) to promote their action in four main cities. They received support from national and regional TV. Sara Novosel, daughter of an HZ staff member, won first prize (4 – 7 year-old category) in the 1st UIC drawing contest on level crossing safety. They made an educational video with Superman waiting for the train to pass (if Superman waits, then you can wait!).

Katarzyna Kucharek, PKP PLK Poland, presented the international press conference jointly organised with UIC on 7 June welcoming all UIC General Assembly Members, keynote speakers and journalists and the events organised on 8 and 9 June (see e-news 242: ). What was particularly amazing was that PKP PLK organised a car crash simulation together with other side events in 23 different cities with extensive media coverage.

Susana Abrantes, REFER, Portugal, also organised a drawing contest for children on safe behaviour. Media were invited to film actions on 9 June at specific level crossings. For REFER it is important to show people that level crossing safety is not only a national issue but a worldwide preoccupation, regardless of culture and language.

Biljana Gordic, Serbian Railways (RS), showed their educational video made jointly with a poster (You always have the choice, just make the right one particularly at a level crossing). They organised educational sessions in 69 primary schools in 23 different cities: 11000 thousands pupils got the safety message.

Dana Hurtova, Slovak Railways (ZSR), organised a car crash simulation around Bratislava that was filmed and covered by the media, posters, billboards, a mascot, education in schools. The ILCAD videos were displayed on screens in 23 railway stations around the country.

Alan Davies, RSSB, presented the British campaign with Network Rail, ORR, BTP running through TV and radio adverts, also using BTP enforcement vans with a video camera at specific level crossings, press conferences in different parts of the country with local TV channels (important to raise awareness locally), visits to schools. When BTP flashes an offender at a level crossing, he or she gets a choice: either to pay a fine of 70 EUR and have three points deducted from the driving license, or not to be prosecuted (no fine, no points lost), but to take a course costing more than the fine: around 110 EUR. Most people choose the course!

Sandra Pansini, Italy (FS), explained that they used the ILCAD videos again on their FS youtube channel: they had many visits and many phone calls from the public. Apart from awareness campaigns their main goal is to remove the greatest number of level crossings.

Isabelle Fonverne then gave some information on other campaigns:
Austrian Railways (ÖBB, for Manfred Kunz): a new mascot named Andreas Kreuz and his assistants distributed safety flyers first to the ÖBB staff members and then to the public in different areas of Vienna. A big press conference was organised with the Federal Minister Bures (see photos).

Operation Lifesaver Argentina (for Lisandro lópez Piñeyro) and ALAF (Arnaldo Ercoli) developed actions jointly for the first time: published the ILCAD press release on their websites, sent it to all ALAF members in South America and to all the main Argentine newspapers and gazettes “La Razón”, “Clarín”, “La Nación” and the railway magazine “Latinrieles”. The ILCAD videos with their educational video were displayed on Internet, in five main railway stations and on national TV, and safety messages were played on the main radio stations, and finally they visited schools.

Israel Railways (for Batel Helmer), with the cooperation of the police forces, focused their actions on children, youngsters, farmers, drivers of four-wheel-vehicles: the safety week around ILCAD started with the inauguration of a railway level crossing at the road traffic safety instruction field for children (see photo). The media were highly interested in their actions (TV, newspaper articles, radio spots…):

The ILCAD partners present who attended the meeting in Lisbon decided to keep one day for the campaign concentrating on level crossing issues and again in June, around the date that had been chosen last year by most partners.
Save the date for ILCAD 2012: Thursday 7 June 2012.

For more information please contact Isabelle Fonverne:

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ZSR (Slovak Railways) communications material
PKP PLK (Polish Infrastructure Manager) communications material
HZ (Croatian Railways) communications material
RFF (French Infrastucture Manager) campaign during the International Level Crossing and Awareness Day (ILCAD) held on 9 June 2011
OLE Campaign in Estonia
Austrian Railways (ÖBB) participating in the International Level Crossing and Awareness Day (ILCAD) on 9 June 2011
Operation Lifesaver (OL) in USA
Operation Lifesaver (OL) in Argentina
Israel Railways (IR) participating in the International Level Crossing and Awareness Day (ILCAD) on 9 June 2011