Campaign aims to make lorry drivers even more aware of traffic regulations…
Infrabel can report that almost 30% of all accidents at level crossings occur in the Port of Antwerp. The majority of these accidents involve goods lorries. Infrabel, together with the Antwerp Port Authority, transport federations and transport trade unions, has therefore launched a new safety campaign which specifically focuses on the businesses and lorry drivers in and around the Port of Antwerp.
On average, 15 accidents occur annually at level crossings in the Port of Antwerp
Despite numerous safety protocols in 2012, at least 14 accidents were reported as having occurred on 201 (officially registered) level crossings in the Port of Antwerp, out of a total 52 accidents on the entire Belgian railway network. Between 2005 and 2012, the annual average was 15 accidents out of a total of 55 accidents (= annual average on the entire Belgian network).
The Port of Antwerp measures 13,000 hectares and shipped 184 million tonnes of goods in 2012. On an average day, around 13,000 lorries drive near to or on the +/- 1,000 km of tracks on the left and right banks and over the 201 level crossings in the port. These are primarily equipped with red lights and a bell signal, meaning it is vitally important that the numerous lorry drivers in the port always respect the signals at these level crossings.
The most common cause of accidents is non-adherence to level crossing signals
Research suggests that lorry drivers regularly traverse closed-off level crossings. Sometimes this is due to them driving too fast, not seeing the level crossing or not noticing the signals. Others do it consciously, being pushed for time and thus not wishing to wait. Unfortunately, many drivers do not realise that in so doing they are putting their own lives and those of train drivers in danger: a train (+/- 4,000 tonnes) cannot always brake on time and is much heavier than a goods lorry (+/- 40 tonnes).
Besides the possibility of causing physical injury, a collision between a goods lorry and a freight train often also causes extensive material damage, both to goods lorries, the freight and the trains, as well as to the railway infrastructure. The previously envisaged saved time suddenly transforms into substantial delays for freight traffic in the Port of Antwerp, which also has economic consequences.
Safety campaign will make lorry drivers more aware
Infrabel is therefore launching a specific safety campaign at level crossings in the Port of Antwerp in order to make lorry drivers aware of the potential danger posed to them and their goods. The first phase of the campaign consists of e-mailing around 500 companies in the Port of Antwerp. During an on-the-ground event, the campaign’s second phase, a leaflet (available in Dutch, French, English, German and Polish) will be distributed amongst drivers in the biggest terminals.
To create support within the transport sector, the campaign is running with the backing of professional federations* (Febetra, TLV/TLF and UPTR/UPTL), the transport trade unions (ABVV-BTB/FGTB-UBOT and ACV/CSC Transcom) and the Antwerp Port Authority. In addition, transport companies and railway operators active in the harbour, as well as the port businesses themselves, were informed about the campaign so that they could spread the message amongst their staff.
Working group for a continuous and progressive increase in safety
Parallel to the awareness campaign, Infrabel has also established a working group which will continuously investigate possible improvements to infrastructure and track signalling. This way, Infrabel wishes to gradually reduce the number of accidents at level crossings and to continuously and progressively increase safety on level crossings in and around the Port of Antwerp.
* FEBETRA: Royal Belgian Federation of Transporters and Logistic Service Providers [Koninklijke Federatie van Belgische Transporteurs en Logistieke Dienstverleners/Fédération Royale Belge des Transporteurs et des Prestataires de Services Logistiques]
TLV/TLF: Transport and Logistics Flanders [Transport en Logistiek Vlaanderen/Transports et Logistiques Flandre]
UPTR/UPTL: Professional Transport and Logistics Union [Unie van Professionele Transporteurs en Logistieke Ondernemers/Union Professionnelle du Transport et de la Logistique]
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