Extensive programme for level crossings in Finland
Finland is implementing a four-year programme dedicated to safety enhancements at the level crossings. The local infrastrustructure agency Väylävirasto is installing the necessary equipment including barriers and warning signals at 129 sites. In addition, the programme includes the removal of the level crossings by constructing overpasses or detours.
The Finnish extensive level crossing programme started in 2018. It is designed for four years and will be completed in 2021. Within the programme, Väylävirasto, the Finnish government agency responsible for the maintenance of the road, rail, and waterway networks, plans to improve safety at 129 level crossings throught the country. This will be done by installing boom barriers, light and sound warning signals at the sites.
Less level crossings
Another key point of the programme is to remove 177 level crossings. In order to achieve this goal, Väylävirasto is constructing bridges, under- or overpasses as well as the special detours. “As an example, there was a section of a road with four level crossings. After constructing detours, we have been able to remove three of them and improve the safety of the remaining level crossing,” said Jarmo Koistinen, a traffic safety specialist at Väylävirasto.
It is worth to note that Finland is gradually removing the level crossings for many years. For instance, there were 3,715 level crossings in 2006. By the end of 2021, when the current programme will be completed, this number will account 2,550 level crossings in Finland.
A special attention is paid by Väylävirasto to the Lahti-Heinola and Tampere-Pori railways. The first line has a length of more than 37 kilometres and is dedicated to the freight traffic. 29 level crossings will be modernised on this route. As the rails run very close to populated areas, it is impossible to remove the level crossings by launching new detours.
The second project is the 155-kilometre line that connects Tampere and Pori. This line serves both passenger and freight trains. Here, Väylävirasto is mainly focused on construction of the bridges and detours as well as technical improvement of the existing level crossings.