evel Crossings Are Becoming Safer | Latvijas dzelzceļš

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evel Crossings Are Becoming Safer

Wednesday, 9 January, 2008
Level Crossings Are Becoming Safer

State JSC Latvian Railway holds altogether 709 level crossings, 68 of them are attended. There are 28 level crossings in Riga, 14 of them are attended.

If one wishes to obtain total number of level crossings in Latvia, he should summarize the above level crossings with the level crossings of other companies (e.g. port), which are located on railway branches of those companies. 

 These level crossings were installed mostly during the previous century, before and after the World War II when intensity of transport traffic was significantly lower than today. Often, level crossings are located in places where auto transport should cross several rail tracks or a level crossing is located near station tracks, which extends period for blocking of auto transport traffic. 

Attended level crossings with protective barriers are installed in places where visibility of crossed railway track is deteriorated for auto transport, and in places where the intensity of traffic is high.

Certainly, as for traffic safety and convenience for auto drivers, the best railway crossing is two level crossings, e.g. overpass or tunnel. This solution requires big financial resources, which railway company does not posses.

Therefore other solutions are proposed for auto transport drivers to make traffic on level crossings more convenient and safe:

  • On level crossings with high intensity of auto transport traffic a rubber surfacing will be laid displacing asphalt or concrete surface. This will provide comfortable ride on level crossings for heavy loaded trucks and passenger cars. Traffic lights with lamps will be replaced by traffic lights with LED, which has much brighter signals, thus they are better seen in sunshine, and mechanical sound signal will be replaced by signalling devices that provide better audibility;
  • Better visibility near level crossings will help auto drivers to see approaching trains from longer distance. In order to achieve it, bushes and trees that deteriorate visibility will be cut regularly. Similarly, visibility deteriorating ground hills near level crossing will be levelled;
  • Installation of automatic protective barriers (which need no presence of level crossing attendant) on unmanned level crossings will be additional safety activity for those auto drivers who are violating level crossing rules. Telemetric control devices from a distance control work abilities of elements of level crossing equipment. These devices are used on route Riga – Tukums direction, level crossings in Bulduri, Melluži, Asari;
  • Installation of video surveillance equipment on level crossings, which is executed by approval of local authorities, allows railway station attendants to survey transport traffic on level crossings and, if necessary, in videotape mode, in order to define concrete violation of definite transport vehicle. Besides, possibility to survey situation on level crossing from a distance allows station attendant to open protective barriers earlier – practically, just after the last wagon of train has passed away. Therefore, waiting period before closed barrier is shortened. Level crossings with video surveillance are operated successfully in Skriveri, Saulkrasti, on section Jelgava – Gluda, Cirma, Aglona and Gulbene (one of the first level crossings equipped with video surveillance 10 years ago). In the nearest future level crossings in Ogre, Koknese and Sigulda will be equipped with video surveillance systems.

Waiting periods for auto transport at level crossings and frequency of close-ups of level crossings are depended on train speed and traffic intensity on definite railway section. From the point of view of traffic safety, periods of close-ups at level crossings in order for trains to pass cannot be decreased substantially, because train cannot drive around obstacles unlike cars. Upon seeing the obstacle train driver can only break. But train’s breaking distance is significantly longer than the one of a car, reaching 300 – 700 meters, depending on speed and weight of specific train.    

 

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