scotland (4K)
The Friends of the Far North Line
Cairdean Na Loine Tuath
the campaign group for rail north of Inverness - lobbying for improved services for the local user, tourist and freight operator

Level Crossings

Road-Rail vs Road-Road

Although few people probably realised it, Thursday 9 June 2011 was the International Level Crossing Day of Action. However, motorists in Dingwall and a number of other places around the country had no excuse for missing this highlight of the road safety calendar as Network Rail's community safety and operations staff and British Transport Police were staffing Dingwall's three level crossings handing out leaflets and explaining why motorists were or should be waiting to cross the railway behind rather than in front of or through the train.

Network Rail claim that level crossing abuse is the biggest outside risk to railway safety. During monitoring operations earlier this year 84 offences were recorded at a crossing in Elgin and 53 people were subsequently reported to the Procurator Fiscal for prosecution. At Broughty Ferry in Dundee 46 offences were recorded and 31 people were reported to the local fiscal's office.

However, Scotland is about to lead the world in driver awareness. Satellite navigation provider Garmin and Network Rail have developed a free downloadable application for a "sat-nav" that will whistle like a train as the vehicle approaches a level crossing. The name of the crossing and an "X" will also appear on the navigation screen.

Mike Lunan reports that he has been reading a recent Paper by Andrew Evans of Imperial College, London, called "Fatal accidents at railway level crossings in Great Britain, 1946-2009". What struck him forcibly was the last paragraph of the Summary, which reads, in full:

A simple comparison of automatic railway level crossings and signalised road intersections found that in 2005 the numbers of fatalities per 1000 crossings or intersections were similar.

Mr Lunan finds this significant and thinks it ought to be more widely known, especially in the minds of MSPs (who are slow to demand barriers at ordinary road junctions) and the Press (equally slow to fulminate about the culpability of the "Owners Of The Roads" when a fatality occurs).

The Table showing the figures is thus:

     Road Rail
Estimated number of signalised intersections and automatic crossings 14300 762
Number of fatal accidents 2005 121 5.13
Number of fatalities 126 6.01
Fatal accidents per 1000 intersections or crossings 8.5 6.7
Fatalities per 1000 intersections or crossings 8.8 7.9

The rail data are taken from the Paper's fitted mean, hence the decimals.