The common objective of railway companies is to promote rail safety

Added on 04.09.2019

Railway companies Operail, Elron, Eesti Raudtee and Edelaraudtee Infrastruktuuri AS have launched a rail safety campaign that focuses on narrow escapes from dangerous situations.

It was pointed out at the press conference of 3 September that while the number of fatal accidents has decreased this year, the number of incidents where people had a narrow escape from a potentially fatal accident on Estonian railway lines and crossings has significantly increased. Moreover, the number of children involved in such incidents is increasing.

Statistics show that 65 railway incidents were registered in the first six months of this year, two of them had fatal consequences and in one case people were injured. While in the first half of 2018 there were 55 incidents of narrow escape from a railway accident, this year the number is bigger.

Board Member of Operail, Paul Priit Lukka, pointed out at the press conference that while railway transport is statistically 28 times safer than road transport, safe behaviour on railway tracks and crossings is paramount. “It must be remembered that, regardless of the type of train, no train can stop quickly. It is thus the responsibility of individuals to avoid danger in the vicinity of tracks. A fully loaded cargo train weighing up to 6,500 tonnes may need up to one km to stop in poor road conditions. This is 10 times more than is necessary for a car. Therefore, there are truly no options – a train must always get the right of way and people must make sure before crossing tracks that it can be done at a right place and safely,” stressed Lukka.

“The statistics on railway accidents indicates that the level of railway safety has improved year on year. Although the number of fatal accidents has decreased this year compared to last year, the number of incidents where people had a narrow escape from a potentially fatal accident on railway lines and crossings has significantly increased, many of which, we would particularly like to emphasise, have involved children,” said Chairman of the Elron Board Merike Saks.

Railway companies urge all road users to pay attention and comply with safety rules, stressing that although railway companies make every effort to create a safe rail crossing and traffic environment, it is actually the road user who plays a key role because rail safety is ensured by a collective effort of all road users.

“Ensuring rail safety is our common goal that requires well thought-through and coordinated action by all parties. One essential element in ensuring rail safety is improving traffic culture through awareness of the dangers,” noted Erik Laidvee, Chairman of Board of Eesti Raudtee, adding that dangers need to be acknowledged by both adults and children, who are just starting to take part in traffic on their own.

An analysis of incidents on railway suggests that life-threatening situations where people narrowly escaped death mainly occur due to crossing the railway in a hurry, without making sure that it is safe, using smartphones while crossing, crossing tracks on a bicycle or at unsafe, non-designated places, being distracted while wearing headphones, etc.

Rain Kaarjas, Board Member at Edelaraudtee Infrastruktuuri AS, pointed out that while railway infrastructure as a whole has been made increasingly safer in Estonia, the safety at raised and level crossings has been improved and access to unauthorised crossings has been blocked, there are still road users who intentionally ignore the safety rules. “Crossing railroads at unauthorised locations continues to be a problem. Moreover, physical barriers and fences to prevent people from getting on tracks are deliberately broken,” said Kaarjas, adding that a possible solution to increase safety could be grade-separated crossings. The representative of the railway infrastructure called on people to comply with traffic regulations that are designed to protect all road users.

Video of narrow escapes on railway: