Daily: Lääne-Viru rail collision may have been accident waiting to happen

An Elron passenger train.
An Elron passenger train. Source: ERR

A recent accident in Kabala, Lääne-Viru County which saw a van driver collide with an Elron train after going against a red light, may have involved a lack of due care and attention from the road user, but was also potentially an accident waiting to happen, regional daily Virumaa teataja (VT) reports.

As reported by ERR News, last Friday evening, June 2, a van driver ignored flashing red stop signs and drove out on to the track and into the path of a Tallinn-bound Elron locomotive. Fortunately there were no reported fatalities or serious injuries resulting from the collision.

VT says that while the level crossing has red flashing warning lights installed, one of these was not only not functioning at the time of the incident, just before 7.20 p.m. on Friday, but also may have obscured those warning lights which were working, due to the idiosyncrasy of the road layout at the location.

Kaido Aettik, infrastructure director at Eesti Raudtee, which operates railtrack in Estonia, conceded that this may indeed be the case – though a freelance journalist and local resident, Ain Alvela, noted that the vehicle involved in the collision approached from the South, whereas the theorized warning light obstruction would rather affect traffic traveling from the North.

The Kabala road follows a "U" shape on its approach to the railway line (see map below) meaning a driver approaching at a normal speed would be able to see the rail line and any bright orange-colored Elron trains easily enough; while Eesti Raudtee is in the process of modernizing its level crossing systems, this is ongoing work – and formerly installed barriers have since been removed.

Layout of the road (yellow) approaching the Narva-Tallinn rail line (red) and the crossing that was the scene of last Friday's accident. Source: Google Maps

Following the accident on Friday, workers arrived to make adjustments to the angling of the warning lights, VT reports, also covering them with bags – not to further obscure the warning lights, but in fact to disperse the light and make it more visible from all angles, particularly after dark, though again this would not have been an issue at the time of year the accident happened.

The original VT article is here.


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