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Vehicular movement must be monitored at level crossings

Published : 29 Oct 2017, 18:43

Updated : 30 Oct 2017, 10:57

  October 29, 2017

Rescuers work at site of a train crash in Raseborg, southern Finland, on Oct. 26, 2017. Photo Xinhua by Matti Matikainen.

The October 26 traffic accident at the Raseborg level crossing raises the demand for monitoring vehicular movements at all crossing points in the country. Four people including three military personnel were killed in the accident that took place when a train collided with a military vehicle near the Town of Tammisaari, some 100km west of Helsinki, at a level crossing. The passenger train was commuting between Karjaa and the port Town of Hanko.

Although the human casualties in the accident shocked the whole society and raised questions about the safety of the travellers, such accident is not new in Finland. According to the Finnish Transport Agency, at least 27 people have been killed in level crossing accidents in the country since 2013 and all of them took place at crossings where there was no signal light or warning for vehicles about train movement. The agency also said that most of the level crossings, 2102 out of the total 2,778, in the country have no signal light.

Based on the data of previous accidents, the transport agency ranks the level crossings on a scale of 1-7 based on the risks posed to drivers. Two hundred crossings have been classified as ‘7’, the most dangerous, and in some of them, such as Teollisuuskatu in Äänekoski or Alaniitynkatu in Lahti, an accident has happened almost every year since 2011, reported the national broadcaster Yle.

After the October 26 accident, the president, the prime minister and other top politicians expressed shock, although no specific announcement for controlling the level crossings was made. Minister of Transport Anne Berner noted that there were 30 level crossing accidents in Finland last year alone. She believes this accident will speed up safety improvements.

But such remarks alone are not enough to stop deaths at level crossings. The authorities should take stern measures to ensure signal lights at all crossings without further delay. We hope the ongoing austerity move of the present government should not affect the safety measures, as austerity is not more important than people’s life.