Czechia invests 40 million Euros annually in safe level crossings
Every year the Czech railway infrastructure manager SŽDC invests around 1 billion Korunas (circa 40 million Euros) to improve the country’s level crossings. It results in an increase of safety at 150 facilities each year. SŽDC notes that the number of accidents at level crossings has been decreasing despite the growing quantity of registered road vehicles and the increasing number of devices distracting the driver (mobile phones, navigation).
“Our basic priority is the addition or installation of the boom barriers at the level crossing to provide safety on the roads of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes as well as on local and special roads,” CEO of SŽDC Jiří Svoboda said. According to him, 117 of 164 level crossings located on the first-class roads have been already equipped with boom barriers. By the year’s end, 16 facilities will be added to this list. The remaining level crossings on the first-class roads will receive the barriers by the end of 2023.
Besides the boom barriers, SŽDC equips the level crossings across Czechia with light and sound signals. Also, the railway infrastructure manager installs video surveillance at the level crossings. It helps to point out the faults of the railway facilities and define the plate number of the vehicles crossing the railway lines. The company intends to develop a preventive solution for decreasing the number of accidents. Currently, SŽDC is testing the obstacle detection system at three stations – Pardubice, Olomouc and Studénka. If the experiment is successful, such systems will be installed at other level crossings.
Closed level crossings
The other measure to increase the safety of the level crossings is their closure. On May SŽDC submitted a draft of the Concept on cancellation and installation of level crossings. “There will always be a certain degree of risk of collision between rail vehicles and road users at the level crossing. Therefore, it is necessary to constantly reduce the number of these level crossings and thus reduce the level of existing risk,” Jiří Svoboda noted. Last year, the rail infrastructure company closed 26 crossings across Czechia. This number will increase if the proposed amendments to the legislation are approved.