Rail/road interface sites

Rail/road interface programme of risk reduction as a result of the Great Heck train crash on 28 February 2001 in which 10 people were fatally injured.Road/rail interface sites

The Great Heck train crash involved a road vehicle obstructing the railway line and derailing a passenger train which then collided with a freight train. There were ten deaths and several injuries to passengers and staff.

Prior to the Great Heck accident, industry concerns over the risk posed to the railway by road vehicles were focused mainly on level crossings. According to the Rail Safety and Standards Board Safety Risk Model, this represented around 80% of the rail/road interface risk. Following Great Heck, other rail/road risk sites have received increased attention.

How do we fit in?

Our role is to monitor progress by infrastructure controllers, working with the local highway authorities completing detailed risk assessments and any necessary improvements to further reduce incursion risk at vulnerable sites. Network Rail, working with local authorities, aimed to complete this work at high risk sites on the mainline railway by March 2007. Although good progress has been made, some work remains outstanding and we continue to monitor progress.

Background information

The Department for Transport (DfT) produced a publication 'Managing the accidental obstruction of the railway by road vehicles' in February 2003. Various bodies, including the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), contributed to this publication which details a risk ranking process to be followed at each road over rail bridge and each adjacent rail/road site.

Higher ranked locations (estimated to number around 1,500) should be subjected to a secondary assessment which will determine any necessary improvements.

The report set out what the highway authorities, rail infrastructure authorities and other organisations needed to do to identify how they could jointly manage the risk of road vehicles getting onto the railway. It included a protocol for apportioning responsibility and costs of mitigation measures.

British Transport Police agreed to standardise the collection of data about such incidents. In order to update the standards for safety barriers on major roads in a clear and open procedure, the Highways Agency set up a technical project board.

Prior to the publication of the DfT report, the Health and Safety Commission published the findings of its working group on the 'obstruction of the railway by road vehicles' in February 2002.