Tragic accident spotlights safety of level crossings without active warnings

A number of level crossings in Denmark don’t have barriers but just a ‘Stop’ sign

Yesterday, two people were killed and two others hospitalised with whiplash injuries when a train struck a minibus going over a level crossing on Vardevej, north of Sig in southwest Jutland.

The crossing is one of 128 in Denmark not equipped with flashing lights or automatic barriers, which just have a sign saying ‘Stop’ with a diagonal cross, or manually-raised barriers.

Mixed signals
Back in 2009, as part of a green transport policy, the Venstre-Konservative government of the day and a number of other parties agreed that all level crossings on Banedanmark’s network should be made safe or closed. One of the main reasons given at the time was that they posed a safety risk.

If everything had gone according to plan, the crossing should have been closed down by Banedanmark this year. As it is, the program of closing or making level crossings like this safer had been postponed to 2019, reports DR Nyheder.

“We are in the process of upgrading a new signal system; the timing depends on the technology we are using there,” said Peter Svendsen, the traffic director of Banedanmark.

“As the signal system plan has been changed, we’ve also had to postpone the level crossing program.”

Investigations underway
At present, it is not known what caused the accident. The police and Denmark’s accident investigation board are currently looking into the circumstances surrounding it.

Despite the accident, Banedanmark has no immediate plans to bring forward the date to close this particular level crossing.

“We will have to take into account what is in the report to decide whether anything should be changed or adjusted in this respect,” added Svendsen.




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