Voice warnings to improve safety at level crossings

Posted: 9 July 2012 | | No comments yet

Network Rail is installing spoken warning equipment at 63 level crossings across the country…

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Network Rail is installing spoken warning equipment at 63 level crossings across the country, alerting pedestrians and motorists that while one train has passed through that another train is coming from the other direction. It is hoped that these clearer instructions will reduce the risk of someone mistakenly believing that it is safe to cross after the first train has passed.

The first few are being rolled out this week across the London North East route near York at Hunmanby Station, Nether Lane, Nafferton, Cranswick and Arram level crossings and near Selby at Wressle and Eastrington.

Currently these crossings have a two-tone yodel, where the second sound is a more high pitched tone and frequency, warning those waiting that a second train is approaching from the opposite direction. However, research by RSSB, the industry safety body, has suggested that voice messages mixed with the standard tones are more likely to be understood and obeyed. The new alarm now says “warning, another train is approaching”. The spoken alarms will also be set to a lower volume at night so, whilst still audible, reduce the impact on anyone living or working near by.

Martin Gallagher, Network Rail’s head of level crossings commented on the roll out of the spoken alarms: “We understand that waiting at a level crossing can be frustrating, particularly if one train has already passed and the barriers remain down or signals remain red, but by changing it from the yodel alarm to a spoken warning, we believe that it will make it much clearer to everyone that they should hang on and wait until it’s safe to cross.”

Michael Woods, Head of Operations and Management Research at RSSB said: “This was very thorough research which considered many different types of warnings and alerts. Providing a spoken warning for the second train has been proven to provide an obvious message to people wanting to cross. RSSB is pleased to be supporting Network Rail in improving crossing safety through the research we have done together.”

This technology is follows on from a successful trial at Scarrington level crossing in the East Midlands. Network Rail also has plans to install the technology to other crossings that do not have any audible alarm to enhance the safety warnings at these locations.

This work is part of Network Rail’s £130m investment in reducing the risk at level crossings across Britain over the next couple of years. Other work includes closing more than 500 crossings since 2010, building footbridges to replace footpaths and rolling out 10 more level crossing enforcement vans to deter people from jumping the lights.

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