Irish Rail records 50% increase in level crossing near misses
Rail operators call for vigilance on International Level Crossing Safety Awareness Day
The has been a sharp jump in the number of near misses at level crossings since the beginning of the year with more than one incident involving users striking or damaging barriers happening each week.
All told in 2018, there have been 27 such incidents recorded by Irish Rail an increase of 50 per cnet on the same period last year.
An Irish Rail spokeswoman said that rise was unexplained although an increase in traffic on the roads and longer commute times is likely to be behind at least some of the incidents as motorists grow increasingly impatient behind the wheel.
On International Level Crossing Safety Awareness Day, a global initiative by worldwide rail industry – to highlight the need for vigilance when using level crossings, Irish Rail has urged users of all level crossings – including automated and user-operated – to avoid distraction and always behave safely.
Misuse of crossings by cyclists and pedestrian is also becoming more of a concern issue, with eight incidents recorded so far this year.
Level crossing accidents account for 1.2 per cent of road deaths in Europe but 29 per cent of all rail fatalities.
Ireland’s record is far stronger than the European average but Irish Rail has stressed that “vigilance is essential”.
The chief executive of Irish Rail Jim Meade said a small minority of road users “act in an appallingly unsafe manner at level crossings” and he appealed to all road users “to act safely when using level crossings to prevent serious injury or death to themselves or to those travelling by train through level crossings.”
The chief executive of the Road Safety Authority Moyagh Murdock said it was “hard to believe that people will take silly chances with trains but I’m afraid that’s exactly what’s happening in some parts of the country, especially at unattended level crossings”.
She said it was vital that “we treat level crossings with extreme caution, especially unattended crossings. Trains are high-powered, high speed vehicles and in the event of a collision, the consequences for a car, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian could be catastrophic. The rule of thumb is to always expect a train and obey the signs and signals at level crossings.”