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PRESS RELEASE 28.02.2011: Violation of Traffic Regulations is the Main Cause of Railway Accidents

According to the statistical information collected by the Estonian Technical Surveillance Authority (TJA), 30 railway accidents too place in 2010. There were 17 road vehicle – train collisions in which 2 persons died and 10 got injured. 13 persons trespassing on railway were hit by railway rolling stock, 9 of them died and 4 got injured.

Compared to 2009 increased both the number of collisions and persons hit. Violation of traffic regulations and choosing driving speed not matching road or weather conditions can be regarded as the main causes of railway accidents. The increased number of railway accidents is also related to the large quantity of snow we have had in the winter period of recent years.

11 out of 17 collisions taking place in 2010 occurred in the winter period (first and fourth quarters of the year). Most of these accidents were caused by snow and ice at level crossings, poor visibility and people’s inability to take into consideration the winter condition of level crossings.

Collisions have taken place both at level crossings equipped with an automatic traffic light system (Pääsküla, for example) and level crossings not equipped with electronic equipment (Männiku and Klooga-Ranna, for example).

All the 2010 accidents involving railway rolling stock hitting people took place because of people trespassing. The details of all such accidents are investigated by the police.

The Technical Surveillance Authority analyses consistently the circumstances of all railway accidents in order to find, in cooperation with railway infrastructure managers and organisations dealing with railway safety promotion, solutions to problematic issues and make railway traffic as safe as possible.

In 2010 continued the programme for passenger platform reconstruction. 19 passenger platforms were reconstructed by the end of 2010 to accommodate the new passenger trains arriving to Estonia in 2012. The rest of the platforms will be reconstructed by the end of 2012. The new construction of passenger platforms is expected to increase the comfort level of passengers and make using trains considerably safer.
During the platform reconstruction works were remodelled the walking paths in stations and trains tops (on Tartu-Valga section and Lääne-Viru County, for example) in order to make the movement of train passengers more comfortable and safer.

In 2010 were also continued efforts for improving level crossing equipment. A usage permit was issued to the renewed automatic level crossing system in Paldiski. In 2011 the Estonian railway infrastructure managers add automatic level crossing equipment to three level crossings on Türi-Viljandi railway line and renew level crossing equipment on Tallinn-Tapa-Tartu line.

The analysis of the circumstances of railway accidents indicates that most of the accidents take place due to negligence and violation of traffic regulations. The recklessness of people towards the rules applicable on railways and dangers and their unwillingness to improve behaviour in traffic continues to be a problem.

One of the priorities of the Technical Surveillance Authority in the field of railway safety is consistent educating process that is conducted in cooperation with Operation lifesaver Estonia (OLE), an international organisation dealing with railway safety promotion. The 2010 campaign “It is closer than you expect! Estimate the speed and distance of an approaching train correctly!“ aimed at bringing the safety message to a wider audience. Everybody should know that railway is a place with an increased level of danger where people can move safely only if they follow traffic light signals, traffic signs and all applicable safety requirements.

Additional information:

Anu Võlma
Chief Specialist of Public Relations
Estonian Technical Surveillance Authority
Sõle 23A, 10614 Tallinn
667 2031
50 11 585

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