Elron: 43 people involved in near-misses on rail lines in Estonia this year

Viljandi station.
Viljandi station. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Eesti Liinirongid AS, the state-owned Estonian operator of passenger trains that conducts its business under the Elron brand, has recorded

The number of near-misses involving members of the public either trespassing on or near the railway, or being negligent when crossing the tracks, has increased by half on year to September, and now numbers 43.

State rail operator Elron says that the 43 near misses occurred where road users found themselves in a very dangerous situation on the railway due to carelessness or a violation of traffic and other regulations, Elron said.

"Both pedestrians and vehicles cross the railway at the last minute. While it is customary to look left and right when crossing the road, then this traffic rule seems to be forgotten at railway crossings and level crossings," Natali Aosaar, Elron's safety manager told BNS.

"In the course of my work, I watch and analyze all the video recordings of narrow escapes, and in the process I often wonder if these people understood at that moment how badly the day could have ended for them and their loved ones. Since there are also cases under investigation, which unfortunately do not end so happily, I know that only a few seconds separate a narrow escape and an accident," she continued, noting that on-board footage taken from Elron engines shows cyclists and pedestrians being distracted by smart devices, headphones and other gadgets, or being negligent in not looking either way, or running red crossing lights, crossing at unauthorized locations etc.

Despite this, incidents have been on the rise, she continued.

"In addition to malicious games - such as throwing stones at trains, which our train drivers also report to the police - this year there have been more and more situations where children play in the immediate vicinity of the railway, despite the fact that the game may distract them and increase the risk of accidents," Aosaar went on.

"The railway should be neither a pedestrian path nor a play area - just as we do not spend time on the highway, there should also be no activity other than safe crossing of the railway in the vicinity of the railway," Aosaar went on.

Locomotives have a much longer braking time and distance than, for instance, road vehicles, she continued, meaning greater vigilance is required despite the standard practice for Elron train drivers to sound their whistle when nearing a crossing.

"When crossing the railway, it is important to take into account that a train's braking distance is very long: Depending on weather conditions and train length, the train's braking distance to a complete standstill is almost 10 times longer than in a car, for example, 150-200 meters at a speed of 50 kilometers per hour, even longer at a higher speeds, meaning pedestrians and cars have no other choice but to give way to the train and make sure that there is no train approaching when crossing the railway," Aosaar went on.

The impending arrival of the dark fall period and the record so far for this year makes it all the more appropriate to remind all road users that a safe traffic environment requires attention and compliance with the rules, Aosaar added.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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