“Best Paper Award” win at global transportation meeting

Congratulations to Shane Turner (Abley), Eddie Cook (KiwiRail) & Shaun Bosher (Stantec) on the great honour of being presented with a “Best Paper Award” at the 2020 Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting.

The paper on “Level Crossing Safety Impact Assessments (LCSIA) for Vehicle and Pedestrian Crossings” was highly rated by the reviewers of the AHB60-Highway /Rail Grade Crossing Committee. Around 13,000 transportation professionals from around the world attended the 2020 TRB Annual Meeting, which was held in Washington DC (USA) from 12-16 January.

While the number of deaths and injuries at level crossings in New Zealand is relatively low compared with the national road toll and injury burden, the high severity of crashes involving trains makes it a key ‘safe system’ focus. It is also alarming that the proportion of crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists at level crossings has been increasing over recent years. This in part is due to the construction of several cycleways and shared paths that travel alongside or cross railway lines.

In the past KiwiRail has relied primarily on the ALCAM crash estimation model to assess the increased risk of crashes at crossings due to a change in use. While ALCAM is one of the better developed level crossing models internationally, especially for pedestrian safety, it should not be used in isolation to understand level-crossing crash risk. The ALCAM documentation specifies that other information, such as incident data and the opinions of locomotive engineers should be considered in assessing risk, but rarely have they received equal importance to ALCAM.

To better inform decision-making and provide a more consistent approach to risk assessment, KiwiRail has developed a wider assessment process that includes these factors, called a Level Crossing Safety Impact Assessment (LCSIA). This new process has been found to better reflect the crash risks at level crossings under different changes in use. This paper outlines the LCSIA process and the learnings that have occurred since it was first introduced in 2016.

Shane Turner, who previously worked at Stantec and helped to develop this work alongside Shaun during his time there, presented this paper at the TRB Annual Meeting, along with two other safe system topics; “Applying the Speed Management Guide to New Zealand Cities” and “Understanding Vulnerable Road User Crash Risk on Urban Arterials using the Safe System Approach”. Shane also chaired a podium session (attended by over 200 people) on “Tools for Transforming Safety Practice to Safe System”, which included five presentations that discussed the safe system approach and a number of innovative tools that have been developed in New Zealand and Australia to assist in achieving safe system outcomes.