Swedish startup introduces standalone system to make level crossings safer
Accidents at level crossings still happen every year. A new safety solution introduced by the Swedish startup company CROSSING SAFETY is aimed at reducing the number of incidents by combining train detection and data from road users with a warning system.
The idea for CROSSING SAFETY was born in 2008 after a fatal accident in central Sweden, where two young people lost their lives. The negative trend regarding fatal accidents has continued since then, says the startup company. The idea from the start was to develop a robust, technically smart solution that was detached from an already complex railway system.
Separate system using data
CROSSING SAFETY operates separately from existing railway systems. It is based on using streamed data from road users in the vicinity of the level crossing through so-called geo-fencing, amongst other things. Communication between the system and the train takes place in real time. The system combines a digital sign at the level crossing and a smartphone application that warns road users of arriving trains.
”We are on a mission to save lives. So far we have received a positive response from the market and now we want to speed up the implementation process together with infrastructure owners, train companies and the automotive industry”, says the startup.
The system is designed to be flexible with different equipment to meet markets in different countries, and is powered by renewable energy. According to the startup, it is light and relatively inexpensive, easy to install and requires no installation time on the track, minimising traffic disruptions.
Passive level crossings prone to incidents
There are more than 100,000 level crossings in the European Union, according to estimates by the International Union of Railways (UIC). On average, that means about 0,5 level crossings per kilometre of railway. Half of these are labelled active level crossings. That means they have protection with a warning system consisting of barriers, sometimes in combination with sound and light signals, according to European Union Agency for Railways (ERA).
The other half of the level crossings are passive, meaning they usually have a cross sign but no active warning. Of all railway fatalities, 30 percent are connected to level crossings, ERA data shows. A common feature of the countries with the highest accident rates is a low population density and low railway traffic volumes.
In the startup’s home country of Sweden alone, there are more 3,500 level crossings without active protection, and there are 10-20 fatalities at level crossings annually, according to railway manager Trafikverket.