Dozens of Estonian railroad crossings may have a technical issue that temporarily disables warning lights at the crossings. Speed limits will be imposed at 39 crossings until Estonian Railways solves the issue.
From the new year, train passengers will have to plan for more travel time than usual, as trains on the Tapa-Narva, Tapa-Tartu and Tartu-Valga lines will have to slow down considerably when approaching the crossing in order to avoid accidents.
The connection between the train and the tracks should be continuous, but an undetected fault will cause seven to 10 seconds interruptions.
"The problem is at level crossings. After the railway level crossing warning lights are activated, they may go out briefly due to a short interruption between the infrastructure and the train. As a result, when a vehicle approaches the crossing, the driver may receive a misleading signal," Tarvi Viisalu, safety manager of Estonian Railways, said.
That's what happened on November 9 this year when a car hit a train in Kabala, Lääne-Viru County. Another similar situation occurred in the spring of 2022 in Tartu at the Ropka crossing, when a passenger train and a truck collided.
"In our analysis of these cases, we have found a coincidence in which the level crossing does not adequately register the arrival of the train at the crossing and, as a result, neither the signals nor the gates can be activated," Priit Pallu, head of the railway department of the TTJA, said.
Estonian Railways now has until the end of June to determine the cause of the failure. The current speed limit on the railway is 120 kilometer per hour, but the speed limit at the crossing is 60 km/h.
The introduction of speed limits means longer travel times. From Tallinn to Narva, trains will take nine to 15 minutes longer from January 2, while from Tallinn to Tartu they will take two to nine minutes longer, depending on the departure.
Elron, TTJA and Estonian Railways all stress that drivers must be particularly vigilant and make sure they cross the railway safely.
Editor: Barbara Oja, Kristina Kersa