Railway Safety Commission wants to improve local lines
The new Railway Safety Commission has agreed to increase investment in local lines. Following the Commission’s first meeting, Transport Minister Havlicek told journalists that safety at rail crossings is also a priority.
Havlíček formed the Commission after a series of recent train accidents. The first meeting took place today. According to the minister, the goal was to create an apolitical team of experts that will work in the long run.
The Commission consists of 16 people, including representatives of the Railway Department, the Railway Administration, the Railway Inspectorate, the Railway Authority, Czech Railways, and ČD Cargo employees on behalf of the carrier, as well as two representatives from the academic community. The Commission also communicates with trade unions. It will meet once every 14 days.
According to Havlíček, the main topic today was “how to set the timetable for investments in railway safety,” particularly the introduction of the ETCS security system, the security of rail crossings, and the provision of local lines. The most serious discussion was about local lines. Future investments planned for the railways will go more to ensuring safety. “We will increase resources for those local lines,” he added.
Havlíček said that by 2022, 500 crossings should be secured, costing CZK 4 billion. The full rollout of the ETCS system will cost several billion koruna. Investments in traffic lights could reach hundreds of millions of koruna.
The director of the Railway Authority, Jiří Kolář, mentioned that the amendment to the Railways Act, now before the Chamber of Deputies, also ensures safety. After its approval, the Railway Authority will monitor driver’s hours. The Office is also preparing to improve training using simulators. They now have two Czech Railways simulators, according to Kolář, the state should purchase them.
The Commission also reviewed the Railway Inspection Office’s accident investigation to date. The Office also gave the Commission its recommendations for solving possible problems. “We wanted our opinions and recommendations to be able to be worked on and the implementation of security measures to be as quick as possible,” said Inspector General Jan Kučera. The Inspection Office will give its recommendations in the final report after the investigation is complete.
There have been several major accidents on the railways in the last week. The most tragic was the collision of two trains in Karlovy Vary near Pernink, in which two people died, and another 24 were injured.
Another accident happened on Friday on the line between Prague and Kolín. Near Prague’s Běchovice, a train without passengers crashed into a waiting express train, and no one was injured. On Tuesday, on the same line near Český Brod, a passenger train crashed into the back of a freight express. Preliminary reports point to human error as the cause.