Accident Crossing to Get a Barrier Arm, Expert Calls It Only Part of the Cure ({{commentsTotal}})

The head of the NGO Operation Lifesaver, Tamo Vahemets, says that railway crossings are 33 times riskier than ordinary intersections and that only better driving culture will result in a sea change. 

Raasiku crossing in northern Estonia, where an accident claimed the lives of two people yesterday afternoon, including a passenger in the train, is not considered a particularly hazardous spot.

Although two accidents have occurred there in less than a year, there hadn't been a fatality for 10 years until yesterday, when a truck driver plowed into the side of the 14:55 regular line from Tallinn to Tartu, derailing two cars and killing one passenger and the truck driver. Twelve were injured, most not seriously. 

Estonian Railway, the infrastructure operator, announced shortly after the accident that Raasiku would be equipped with a barrier arm, but Vahemets says that won't prevent accidents by itself.

He says barrier arms are snapped off at the stem by motorists by the dozen each year.

Estonian Railway provided exact figures today: 76 barrier arms were run over last year, and 22 in the first three months of 2014.

"In the case of yesterday's accident," said Vahemets, the truck drove into the train, not in front of it, which means it was going too fast, it wasn't about the signal light or the barrier arm."

Statistics also show that railway accidents have decreased - four died in 2013 compared to 14 in 2003.

He cautioned drivers to remember that freight trains can take 2 kilometres to come to a complete stop and that it is hard to judge the speed of a train by the eye alone.