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Safer European Level Crossing Appraisal and Technology

SELCAT will perform a deep analysis of completed and existing European level crossing safety research focusing on appraisal, technology and safety evaluation methodology including dissemination actions like workshops, special sessions at conferences, public campaigns and a web portal.

Tags: Rail


Every year, more than 330 people are killed in more than 1 200 accidents at road-rail level crossings in the European Union. Together with tunnels and specific road black spots, level crossings have been identified as being a particular weak point in road infrastructure, seriously affecting road safety. In the case of railway transport, level crossings can represent as much as 50% of all fatalities caused by railway operations. Until now, the only effective solution appears to involve upgrading level crossing safety systems, even though in more then 90% of cases the primary accident cause is inadequate or improper human behaviour rather than any technical, rail-based issue.

High safety requirements for level crossing safety systems required by European railway sector standards create a high cost base which hinders the technological upgrade of existing systems. Railway standards already include a risk-based definition of safety, according to which only the unacceptable risk must be eliminated by the technical system. Nevertheless, the lack of approved safety methodology, which would allow the industry to quantify the risk to be reduced, still leads to the need for the highest safety integrity levels for technical solutions in most European countries.

To date the fact that level crossings are a factor in only a very small proportion of the total of road accidents has limited the involvement and commitment of the road sector in developing solutions to the problem.


SELCAT aims to contribute actively to the reduction of level crossing accidents by:

  • collecting, analysing and disseminating existing research results and stimulating new knowledge exchange in the area of level crossing safety
  • creating circumstances whereby European partners, in the rail and road sectors, can make a significant contribution to the reduction of accidents, injuries and fatalities at level crossings
  • understanding and codifying existing and planned research
  • comparing and harmonising data sources
  • exploring new technologies and harnessing appraisal techniques to optimise these.

The activities of SELCAT should lead directly to the improvement and expansion of intermodal collaboration between the road and rail sectors.

Addressing safety methods, safety targets and indicators in connection with cost benefit analysis SELCAT will also harmonise with the aims of the European Railway Agency’s (ERA) work programme.

The objective of SELCAT is to evaluate the safety performance of European level crossings and to make recommendations on the common safety targets for this particular subsystem of railway transport. In addition, the level crossing as a practical example will be used as a benchmarking exercise for the application of evaluation methodology and can be used as an important contribution to the adoption of Common Safety Methods advised by ERA for the year 2008.

Description of work

In order to reach the above stated scientific and technological objectives, the work plan of SELCAT intends to carry out the following coordination activities:

  • Provide a knowledge base for the improvement of the level crossing safety by carrying out an analysis of results of safety-related projects from the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) and FP6 with regard to railway and road transport
  • Provide an overview of existing and planned level crossing research and improvement activities in European countries and in Japan
  • Analyse incident and accident data and databases related to level crossings in Europe and Japan
  • Propose a standard for reporting level crossing accidents in European countries
  • Set up a common level crossing accident information system
  • Examine the potential for, and practicability of, existing and new technologies to improve the safety and the performance of level crossing systems
  • Investigate the applicability of available risk and cost-benefit analysis methods for the classification of technological solutions for the safer interface of rail and road traffic at level crossings
  • Disseminate the results of investigated projects (FP5, FP6, national research) by the organisation of three specific workshops, the organisation of a special session on existing planned conferences and the creation of a thematic level crossing web portal.


The results of SELCAT will be available in the following planned deliverables:

D1 Report about statistics, database analysis and regulations for level crossing

D2 Report about examination of actual and potential technologies for level crossings

D3 Report about risk modelling techniques for level crossing risk and system safety evaluation

D4 Report on cost benefit analysis methods for level crossings

D5 Level crossing (LC) web portal structure

D6 Proceedings of the workshop LC Appraisal

D7 Proceedings of the workshop LC Technology

D8 Proceedings of the workshop LC Methodology

D9 Dissemination campaign for car drivers organised through media of an automobile club

D10 Progress report

D12 Level crossing web portal providing:

  • structured access to the FP5 and FP6 results concerning rail and road safety
  • interactive access to level crossing statistics database (population, accidents, types, etc.)
  • structured accessibility of relevant national and international documents and studies (standards, railway guidelines, etc.)
  • all public deliverables of SELCAT (documents, workshop and special session advertisement, etc.)

D13 Recommendations for FP7 activities

D14 Recommendations for standardisation

D15 Final report