Irish Rail says level crossing incidents ‘particularly worrying’ with 31 this year

Company releases video footage as it urges road users to obey the rules

Irish Rail have released footage of incidents at Irish level crossings, with 60 incidents reported in 2020, as part of International Level Crossing Awareness Day. Video: Irish Rail

 

There have been 31 incidents at level crossings so far this year, Irish Rail has said. The company said some of these incidents have been “particularly worrying” and have been widely shared on social media.

Last year, there were 60 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,” Irish Rail said.

The company has released footage of incidents at level crossings to mark International Level Crossing Awareness Day and has called for renewed vigilance.

Irish Rail said incident rates are stable, which may have been contributed to by reduced traffic volume due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, it appealed to road users to be vigilant at level crossings as restrictions begin to ease.

Irish Rail is continuing to install additional train detection warning systems at user operated level crossings around the country.

These measures have now been introduced at eight user operated level crossings, with a further 10 to be commissioned in the coming weeks.

There are currently 948 level crossings on the Irish Rail network. These are a combination of automated CCTV crossings, non-automated crossing and user operated accommodation crossings.

The company said it is working to eliminate “as many level crossings as practicable” and has closed 77 crossings between 2014 and 2021.

A railway order has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála to eliminate seven level crossings on the Cork Mainline.

Almost 300 people die at level crossings across Europe every year. However, there have been no level crossing fatalities in Ireland since 2010.

Jim Meade, chief executive of Irish Rail, said the number of incidents at level crossings is “still too high”.

“In recent months, we have had a number of very worrying incidents and level crossings and we would appeal to all road users to obey the rules of the roads at level crossings,” Mr Meade said. “They are for everyone’s safety.”

Sam Waide, chief executive of the Road Safety Authority, said the purpose of an awareness day for safety at level crossings is to make all road users aware of the “real dangers posed due to carelessness” at railway level crossings, especially when using unattended crossings.

“There really is no room for complacency when it comes to level crossings, because if you take risks at level crossings you are gambling with your own life and the lives of others,” Mr Waide said.