80pc rise in trains running red lights

4th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

4 April 2006, BRUSSELS — Some 48 trains ran red lights last year, an increase of 80 percent compared with the 27 incidents recorded in 2002.

4 April 2006

BRUSSELS — Some 48 trains ran red lights last year, an increase of 80 percent compared with the 27 incidents recorded in 2002.

The figures were supplied by Public Enterprises State Secretary Bruno Tuybens on request from Liberal VLD Senator Stefaan Noreilde, news agency Belga reported on Tuesday.

Belgian Rail operator NMBS-SNCB said it did not want to minimise the figures, but stressed they should be seen in the "right context".

"It involves 48 breaches out of a total of 1.3 million commuter trains in one year. In 99.99 percent of cases there is thus no problem. The train remains an exceptionally safe means of transport," a spokesman said.

However, the number of trains running through a red light has been rising for several years. In 2002, 27 train drivers ignored a red light, 32 in 2003, 41 in 2004 and 48 in 2005.

"This is an increase of 80 percent compared with 2002. Fortunately, this has not yet led to more collisions. In 2002, 2003 and 2005 there was just one collision, in 2004 two collisions," Noreilde said.

The VLD Senator said the NMBS-SNCB has taken preventative measures, but these appear to have been unsuccessful in preventing human error.

"Only the introduction of an automatic safety system can prevent human errors and a repeat of Pécrot [the train disaster in 2001 in which eight people were killed]," Noreilde said.

According to rail network administrator Infrabel, 1,800 or 13 percent of the 8,700 track signals are currently equipped with a safety system.

By 2009, this system should be fitted to all of the critical junctions on the Belgian rail network, accounting for 50 percent of all track signals. 

All signals must be equipped with the safety system by 2012.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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