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Level crossing improvement progressing

Published 16.12.2021

At the beginning of 2010, there were 3,376 level crossings. At the beginning of this year, there were still 2,594 level crossings along the state railway network, of which 712 were equipped with a warning system and 1,882 were unguarded. Level crossing improvements have progressed in recent years at a pace of 100 level crossings per year.

Level crossing in winter.

Nevertheless, this is not directly reflected in accident statistics. At the beginning of the 2000s, the average number of level crossing accidents per year was 50, and it is now around 20. For example, in 2000 there were 52 accidents, while in 2019 and in 2020 there were 16.

"This year, there have already been 25 accidents, which is very worrying. In other words, even though the number of level crossings has decreased, the number of accidents may vary considerably each year,” says Railway Traffic Director Markku Nummelin.

The most dangerous level crossings removed in programme

In 2018, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency started a level crossing removal and upgrading programme. "The five-year programme is based on a risk-based approach: we started the removals and improvements from the most dangerous level crossings. In addition, there is a regional perspective: if there are many level crossings close to each other, one of them will be improved and traffic will be directed through it, while the other level crossings will be removed,” says Jarmo Koistinen, traffic safety expert.

Within the framework of the programme, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency will remove 241 level crossings and improve the conditions of 114 level crossings. In addition, 84 level-crossing facilities (boom plant, light and sound warning system or level crossing light) will be installed. In total, the programme will result in the removal or safety improvement of 439 level crossings.

Due to the pandemic, important residents' hearings have not been carried out in the desired way, so not all the sites planned for 2021 have been implemented on time. The implementation will be postponed to the following years. Despite the pandemic, 19 level crossing lights have been installed between Toijala and Valkeakoski, and 30 level crossings have been removed from different parts of the network.

How will the work progress in 2022?

The improvement of level crossing safety will continue. The national 12-year transport system plan outlines, among other things, the objectives, funding and allocation of funding for the transport system. One of the measures concerning the railway network is level crossing safety, and an estimated EUR 15–20 million per year will be allocated to its improvement.

In 2022, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency will complete removals planned for the previous year, implement new removals and improve a large number of level crossings. "According to our plan, a total of 110 level crossings will be closed and replaced by other road connections, 16 new half-barrier facilities will be built, three light and sound warning devices will be installed and the conditions at 37 level crossings will be improved," says Jarmo Koistinen.

The location of sites and progress of work (in Finnish)

Level crossings in the state-owned railway network

Improved conditions and safety equipment significantly increase safety. However, the most important safety factor is the vigilance of the road user: the train cannot give way.