Luxembourg's national railway company, the CFL, has launched an awareness campaign on the occasion of International Level Crossing Awareness Day (ILCAD), a global initiative held this year on Thursday 15 June 2023 to improve awareness of level crossing safety.
The fifteenth edition of ILCAD focuses on agricultural and industrial level crossing users (i.e. those crossing with agricultural or industrial machinery (including lorries)) and the slogan is "Tracks are for Trains". According to the CFL, despite the specific focus of this edition, the slogan applies to all drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists. With this slogan, the International Union of Railways (UIC), which coordinates ILCAD with the support of the worldwide railway community, wishes to recall the importance of respecting the Highway Code on level crossings.
For the CFL, which launched a new awareness campaign on Thursday, the message is simple: "Never get on the tracks if you are not sure you can cross them at once." Doris Horvath, Head of Safety, Security and Environment at the CFL, elaborated: "Even if the barriers are open, you should never get on the tracks if you are not sure you can cross them at once, especially during rush hour when traffic jams quickly form on the road. Respecting the Highway Code and safe behaviour at level crossings helps to preserve the safety of road users, customers and on-board CFL staff."
The CFL is also pursuing a programme to remove one to two level crossings each year, in the interest of safety. These are being replaced, depending on the configuration of each site, by a bypass, a bridge or an underground passage which requires major works carried out in close coordination with the public officials concerned. In 2022, the CFL removed a level crossing on the Northern line (Maulusmühle) and a second between Tétange and Laangegronn. 107 level crossings are currently counted on the Luxembourg rail network.
"Reducing accidents at level crossings begins with a change of mindset to ensure that everyone feels fully responsible when crossing them with their vehicle," said Marc Wengler, Managing Director of the CFL . "For several years, we have been raising awareness among our customers with a simple message that particularly concerns those who use a level crossing as a pedestrian or with their bicycle: 'next to the tracks, we don't mess with safety!'"
According to the UIC, in 2021, more than a quarter (27%) of all significant rail accidents and almost a third (32%) of all accident fatalities occurred at level crossings. Although there were no such fatalities in Luxembourg in 2022, according to the CFL, each accident on a level crossing involves serious consequences ranging from the systematic stoppage of rail traffic for safety reasons to consequences for the people involved, including train and road vehicle drivers.
The CFL has outlined four safety-related points for road users on level crossings:
- stop as soon as the red lights come on and/or the audible warning around level crossings starts up;
- in the event of a traffic jam, wait in front of the open barriers until you can completely cross the level crossing at once and without any part of the car remaining stuck on the tracks;
- if for reasons beyond your control, you are blocked on the level crossing tracks while the barriers are closing, cross the barriers by breaking them (breaking points provided for this purpose) to avoid being hit by the train;
- non-compliance with the Highway Code (crossing a level crossing when the red lights and the audible alarm are perceptible) is punishable by a fine of €3,000 for pedestrians and €145 as well as the withdrawal of two points from one's driving licence for motorists.