Speed checks to be stepped up as part of new safety measures
BERN, SWITZERLAND – The CFF rail company is increasing safety systems for several of its regional trains following a fatal crash earlier this year that took the life of a young conductor driving one of the trains.
The changes are the result of a safety review the CFF carried out after a crash at the end of July between two regional trains in Granges-Marnand in western Switzerland.
A doublecheck system was introduced immediately for seven stations, with the manager for trains in operation giving the final green light for trains to pull out of the stations where trains heading in opposite directions share part of the track. This will now be extended to five other stations starting 15 December: Bauma, Galmiz, Lucens, Turbenthal and Wald.
A system to track the speeds of trains at 1,700 crossings is being installed, with an expected completion date of end-2018.
The CFF is also considering speeding up the introduction of a continual check on speeds based on a European norm, ETCS level 2.
Level crossings to go by end-2014
The Federal Council earlier ordered that all level crossings with that are not under surveillance be removed by the end of 2014. In 2012 there were 20 accidents at these crossings.
Safety was listed as a top priority in the CFF’s annual report at the end of 2012 but following a crash in northeastern Switzerland, at Neuhausen, the company ordered two other safety studies, both of which made recommendations while also praising the firm’s overall level of concern for safety.
The safety of people near railway lines does not figure in these reports, but it is addressed in the annual report. Prevention, the report says, is the key. Older trains need to be adapted, train stations need reorganization as the number of travelers and people on platforms continues to grow.
The CFF says education programmes in schools is starting to pay off, helped by a stronger police presence in places where signs warning people not to cross the tracks are too often ignored.
Four accidents involved people in stations or at stops and moving trains in 2012, compared to three in 2011. The number of accidents that were judged to be largely the fault of the victims themselves 29 compared to 30 in 2011. Half – 14 accidents – were fatal last year. Four of these involved people being electrocuted when climbing on top of train wagons.
The high number of suicides poses a particular challenge. Last year saw a sharp increase, with 131 suicides, compared to 103 on average for the previous four years.
The CFF has hired an expert to study measures taken elsewhere and to see where improvements to the prevention system could be made.