Enrico Grillo Pasquarelli, Land Transport Director at the European Commission’s DG MOVE Kaido Simmermann, CEO of Estonian Railways Tamo Vahemets, Operation Lifesaver Estonia Petr Kutcherenko, Chairman, Directorate of Community of Independent States and Baltic Railway Council Eero Pärgmäe, Estonian Deputy Secretary-General of Transport and Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Environment Helen Sramek, President, Operation Lifesaver inc. (OLI) in the USA Isabelle Fonverne, UIC Project Officer Safety and Interoperability Exhibition of national campaigns Dan Di Tota, National Director of Operation Lifesaver (OL), Canada Alan Davies, ELCF ELCF European Level Crossing Forum Chairman
Tamo Vahemets, from Operation Lifesaver Estonia (OLE), opened the conference inviting the 150 participants from 22 countries to observe a one minute silence in the memory of the Japanese earthquake victims.(OLE:http://www.operationlifesaver.eu/ee/en)
The first keynote speaker, Enrico Grillo Pasquarelli, Land Transport Director at the European Commission’s DG MOVE http://ec.europa.eu/roadsafety, stressed the importance of such a conference on level crossing safety and reported on the EU transport safety objectives through the EC Road Safety Action Programme 2011-2020 “on the move for safer roads in Europe” to halve the number of fatalities on the roads. It includes the “shared responsibility” on road infrastructure including level crossings. Better engineering at level crossings (better visibility, modern technology) as well as training, education, awareness and enforcement are also needed to improve safety. Though rail has very good safety records, the interface of road and rail represents a very significant cause for concern. There are limited options for train operators, but there needs to be a tougher stance towards the road sector on the part of the authorities, which could include European funding going only to areas that meet requirements. Building underpasses and bridges are the key to decreasing the number of level crossings but these are difficult investment decisions. Various planning and maintenance actions are supported. According to article 18 of the Vienna Convention rail has priority. Human or technological solutions in conjunction with education in schools and driving schools are most important to increase safety which is being achieved by Operation Lifesaver.
Petr Kutcherenko, Chairman, Directorate of Community of Independent States and Baltic Railway Council, explained the organisational structure of the Council and added that the freight schedule planning is central to the organisation. The increase in road traffic has added to poor road driving behaviour and violations, and there is an urgent need for prevention, education and enforcement. The 2006-10 statistics show that the accidents are mainly caused by road users (98%).
Eero Pärgmäe, Estonian Deputy Secretary-General of Transport and Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Environment, and a native of Tartu. When he used to go to school it was much quicker to take a shortcut across the rail tracks than to go the long way. He did it because he did not realise the risks involved. There was no education or prevention at that time. Nowadays this event is very important in helping to reach target audiences. The Ministry has investment programmes for new trains, stations, crossing replacements. But he thinks it is better to change the way people think.
Kaido Simmermann, CEO of Estonian Railways, explained that in 2004 EVR http://www.evr.ee/?lang=en decided to make efforts to publicise public safety due to an increase of casualties in Estonia. This led to the creation of Operation Lifesaver in Estonia (OLE) that henceforth developed the outlined campaign activities.
Kirsi Pajunen, ERA ERA European Railway Agency (http://www.era.europa.eu/Pages/Home.aspx), outlined the purpose of the railway agency and the vision 0 : the human being is part of the transport system and cannot be punished by the death sentence for making errors.
Anvar Salomets, Estonian Technical Surveillance Agency (Railways inspectorate), reported on the history of regulation since Estonia regained independence in 1991.
Don Wilson, Principal Inspector of Railways at the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR : http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/), reported on the different types of level crossings in the UK and ORR’s role.
Esko Värttiö, Finnish chief rail accident investigator, gave a presentation on the Finnish safety administration that is independent and designed to improve overall safety covering all transport sectors : air, rail, maritime and ‘other’ branches.
Helen Sramek, President, Operation Lifesaver inc. (OLI) in the USA, the mother company of OL and a non-profit organisation founded in 1972. Their activities are related to level crossing and trespassing issues : 25% of all accidents are caused by professional drivers. Since 1972 the number of collisions have declined by 84%. They reached 3 million people in 2010 : drivers, law enforcement people and students (their website www.oli.org also exists in Spanish : http://www.oli.org/about-us/ol-en-e...). Their targets : distracted drivers, children and young people. They also organise E-learning with simulators in cabins for professional drivers (mainly truck drivers).
Since 1981 Canada has adopted a bilingual version of OL. Operation Lifesaver is a partnership initiative of the Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada and works in cooperation with the rail industry, government, police, unions, and many public organisations and community groups. Canada counts 20,000 public level crossings and 20,000 private ones. 54% of incidents at LX are due to trespassing.
Victor Cherkassov, Head Dept. Labour Protection, Industrial Safety and Environmental Monitoring at the Russian Railways said they are interested in the accidents taking place between or at stations, not at level crossings. These accidents have decreased by 30% between 2004 and 2010 and occur mainly in suburban areas.
Martina Pavlikova on behalf of Jan Nastisn, ZSR Slovakia, presented their network and the number of level crossings in Slovakia and talked about the importance of human factors and education.
Michael Calé, Traffic Psychologist at Israeli Railways, introduced the issue of the boring side of road traffic signs. They are so boring that people do not pay attention any more. Their role is to make them aware of new signs and encourage them to be more cautious, for example to take notice of new signs on the ground signalling a level crossing is approaching.
Vassiliki Danelli-Mylonas (R.S.I. http://www.ioas.gr/en/), President of the Hellenic Road Safety Institute, and John Lawlor, Chief of the Irish Contingent of Scouts : R.S.I. has been created to increase awareness and sensitivity among citizens, and most importantly to rally key Public and Private Organisations to act for Road Safety. Since 2007 they have been making road safety awareness campaigns (TV, Radio, publications and posters on level crossings). They participated in ELCAD 2009 and ILCAD 2010 in cooperation with TRAINOSE and will continue in 2011. Since death through road injury is the most significant killer of young people globally between the ages of 5 to 29 years (source WHO 2008) R.S.I. has formed a partnership with the Scouts Contingent to make awareness campaigns in which ILCAD will be associated. The World Organisation of the Scout Movement (WOSM) is composed of 28 million scouts in 160 countries and is the largest children’s and youth movement in the world.
Isabelle Fonverne, UIC, presented ILCAD 2010 in which more than 40 countries worldwide participated with smaller or bigger campaigns. She showed the EC financed video “Just in time” and informed participants that the date for 2011 has been fixed for 9 June : www.ilcad.org The campaign has been registered on the WHO website as part of road safety campaigns ; therefore by supporting and advertising on the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 she may use the logo of the UN campaign on ILCAD communications media.
Urmo Reitav (UNICEF Estonia) presented UNICEF actions for children and campaigns in Estonia. He talked about cooperation without which no project can be supported.
Werner de Dobbeleer (Belgian Road Safety Institute) presented the CAST project and recommendations to increase the chances of success of awareness-raising campaigns : http://www.cast-eu.org/
Robert Nowak, UN-ECE Geneva, Secretary of the Working Party 1 on Road Traffic Safety, covered the 1968 Vienna Convention relating to road signs and repeated that UN-ECE intends to initiate a Road/Rail Interface Safety Group (UIC again invited to participate at WP WP Work Package 1 session on 22 March).
Projects Officer, Interoperability and Safety