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Improving safety on Finnish railways by prevention of

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First, I would like to acknowledge the Finnish Transport Agency and the Finnish Transport Safety Agency for their financial support of various national projects. In addition, I would like to thank the Henry Ford Foundation and the Finnish Foundation for the Advancement of Technology for their grants in support of my work. I would also like to thank my supervisor, Professor Tapio Luttinen from Aalto University, and the reviewers of this thesis, Professor Per Gårder from the University of Maine and Dr.

Finally, I would like to thank my family, Juho, and my best friends for their support.

Introduction

  • Significance of train-pedestrian collisions
    • Train-pedestrian collisions in the context of rail safety
    • Cost of accidents and fatalities
  • Pedestrian behaviour
    • Pedestrians as part of the transport system
    • Risky behaviour
    • Trespasser profile
  • Possibilities to reduce railway trespassing
    • Prevention
    • Countermeasures
    • System approach
  • Purpose of the study

The evaluation of risk associated with a pedestrian crossing event can be considered more demanding in the railway than road environment, due to the lower number of encounters with passing vehicles and the relative simplicity of the railway environment. According to Lobb (2006), the risk judgment of an offender is based on the positive and negative value of the possible outcome, the probability of an undesirable. Therefore, the potential countermeasures must also vary depending on the nature of the perpetrators.

Without a good understanding of the problem, there is still a risk that the allocated resources will be wasted, or that the measures implemented may be counterproductive (Savage 2007). The safe systems approach emphasizes that all elements of the railway safety system are interconnected and that responsibility for safety should be shared across all actors (Johnston 2010). The purpose of the first sub-study was to examine the railway accidents in Finland from 1959 to 2008.

One aspect of the investigation involves the identification of different types of accidents (e.g., violation accidents). The aim of the second sub-study was to describe the main characteristics of train-pedestrian collisions on the Finnish railways, e.g. frequency of fatalities, timing of collisions and characteristics of persons killed). The fifth sub-study aimed to investigate the effects of three countermeasures on the frequency of violations and the characteristics of violation behavior.

Method

  • Accident analyses
  • Surveys (substudies III and IV)
  • Field observations
  • Trespasser interviews (substudy III)

The databases of the Finnish Police and Statistics Finland are the only official sources of information on the seriousness and intentionality of an event. The survey in substudy III was addressed to motorists to explore the locations of frequent violations. The survey in substudy IV was directed at people living near a railway line to explore their views on the breach.

In the survey form (used in substudy III) managers were asked about the places where they regularly observed offenders and for their suggestions about possible preventive measures. The survey form included a map of the area near the workplace and a table listing problematic sites. The survey form contained four types of questions: (1) recollection of frequency and characteristics of offenders and their behaviour, (2) preference of potential means to prevent trespassing, (3) assessment of respondents' own trespassing and the perceived safety of trespassing, and (4) awareness of regulations regarding walking in the railroad area and trespassing fatalities.

Three locations in the Lappeenranta area were selected for observing offenders and investigating the effects of three countermeasures. The characteristics of the countermeasures were as follows: (1) Landscaping included removing the existing path along the railway line, sloping the banks of the railway line, planting trees and shrubs to form a natural hedge, planting grass and decorating the sides with some stones big. The interview focused particularly on their movements in the railway area, the opportunities and their readiness for it.

Figure 1. Map of the city of Lappeenranta (City of Lappeenranta 2007). The black  line from bottom left to upper right shows the passenger traffic railway
Figure 1. Map of the city of Lappeenranta (City of Lappeenranta 2007). The black line from bottom left to upper right shows the passenger traffic railway

Results

Development of railway safety especially in regard to trespassing

The results of sub-study II including 2005-2009 show that a total of 311 train-pedestrian collisions occurred on the Finnish railway network. Of this number, 35 were classified as suicides (intentional events), 35 as accidents (unintended events) and 12 as unclassified events. Comparison of these two data sets shows that the number of fatalities in the other group (substudy I) is higher than the actual number of violation fatalities (even if the unclassified incidents are included).

It can thus be concluded that some of the suicides have been inadvertently classified as others in the Finnish railway operator's statistics. Therefore, the previous assumption that the group others in substudy I mainly, but not exclusively, includes intruders is correct.

Characteristics of trespassing

  • Frequency of trespassing
  • Timing
  • Gender and age
  • Sites, route selection and type of travel
  • Type of behaviour and intoxication of victims
  • Perceived safety
  • Awareness of legality

In terms of weekdays, trespassing deaths occurred most often at the end of the week (from Friday to Sunday). Specifically, the proportion of men among the victims of accidents was 77% (substudy II) and in observations of intruders 63% (substudy III). Seventy percent of the offenders were alone and 23.2% in groups of two (part study III).

Half of the offenders surveyed rated the intrusion as either slightly dangerous (17%) or very dangerous (33%) (substudy III). Many interviewees feel that entry is safe when they are careful, and are more concerned about children, elderly people, drunk people and those whose attention is somehow distracted. Specifically, 98.0% of respondents who indicated that they did not violate said that the disturbance was minor or very dangerous, while the corresponding percentage of respondents who violated was only 76.8% (Figure 3).

In addition, the older the respondents were, the smaller the proportion of respondents who rated the intrusion as completely or fairly safe. Some of the respondents also said that it must be legal as there is no sign indicating otherwise. In addition, the effect of awareness of legality on respondents' self-reported intrusion was significant.

Table 1 shows that the majority of both victims of trespassing accidents and  trespassers were adults or elderly people (substudies II, III and IV)
Table 1 shows that the majority of both victims of trespassing accidents and trespassers were adults or elderly people (substudies II, III and IV)

Effectiveness and preference of countermeasures

  • Effectiveness of countermeasures (substudy V)
  • Preference of countermeasures (substudy III and IV)

The effect of respondents' age on awareness of legality was also significant p < 0.05), with typically higher percentages of legal responses for younger respondents. However, when the number of observations is high, the approximation to normal distribution is possible and therefore a t-test was performed. Second, due to uncertainty as to whether the number of observations was high enough for the approximation, an additional distribution-independent non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test was performed.

The results also showed that the effect of each countermeasure on the frequency of trespassing was statistically significant (p < 0.001). In addition, the effectiveness of the countermeasures was evaluated according to the time of day and characteristics of the offenders. Specifically, the most obvious interdependencies prior to the introduction of countermeasures included the following: 94% of offenders in groups of more than two people were children or adolescents, 86% of people with dogs were adults, and all offenders were equipped with walking sticks (i.e. Nordic walkers ) were adults.

Furthermore, the effect of fence and sign did not differ significantly by group size. For cue, the effect was the opposite, with the greatest performance in (adult) stick exercisers. The analysis of costs and benefits of implemented countermeasures was carried out for two scenarios: scenario 1 was based on the actual number of violators at each location, and scenario 2 was based on the mean value of violators.

Figure 4. Frequency of trespasses per day before and after countermeasure in- in-stallation
Figure 4. Frequency of trespasses per day before and after countermeasure in- in-stallation

Discussion

  • Role of trespassing in railway safety in Finland
  • Main characteristics of trespassing accidents and trespassing
  • Effectiveness and preference of selected engineering countermeasures
  • Contribution and limitations of the study

In addition, many of the offenders interviewed indicate that they consider it safe if they are careful. The results of the before-after study show the largest decrease in the frequency of daily violations with fencing (94.6%), followed by green areas (91.3%) and a prohibition sign (30.7%). However, the results also show that it is necessary to tailor countermeasures to the characteristics of the offenders, to ensure that the most appropriate measures are applied.

The results have helped practitioners and researchers understand the problem and form a relatively comprehensive picture of it, which can be used in developing and implementing effective countermeasures. Secondly, the results of the neighborhood survey should be viewed with caution due to the somewhat biased age group and the relatively low response rate. Third, the results of the neighborhood survey may have some limitations in terms of social desirability (Edwards 1953).

However, social desirability should not be seen as a major problem due to the anonymity of the respondents (Lajunen and Parker 2000). The results are therefore limited to the short-term effects of the preventive measures, especially in the case of prohibited signs if no enforcement is introduced. Finally, the results of the cost-benefit analysis should be treated with caution, as they are based on strong assumptions about the daily number of offenders and a small number of deaths.

Implications and recommendations

Regardless of the results obtained, more research is needed to gather more information about the effectiveness of countermeasures (eg applicability of the results to other sites and regions). The results of this study also support the findings of earlier studies that there is no single generic solution to prevent trespassing (eg Law 2004, Rail Safety and Standards Board 2005, Savage 2007). It is important to understand the location and offender characteristics, as it provides a better understanding of the factors that influence risky behavior and points the way to apply the most effective or appropriate countermeasure(s) (II and III).

One of the main aspects of safety education should focus on school children, as their ability to perceive and assess risks associated with intrusion is limited. Therefore, school teachers, together with other authorities, should be heavily involved in road safety education to increase pedestrians' awareness of railway crossing rules and increase their understanding of the risks associated with railway crossings. In particular, schools near railway lines should be a primary target group (see e.g. Finnish Transport Safety Agency 2011).

Finally, there is a strong need for further research in the area of ​​illegal crossing worldwide. Implementing the recommendations of the global reports on road injury prevention - Guidelines for countries to conduct road safety management capacity reviews and specification of lead agency reforms, investment strategies and safety system projects. Beyond 'best practice' road safety thinking and systems management – ​​a case for culture change research.

In general, a systems approach is recommended for prevention work together with a shared responsibility between stakeholders such as the government, railway organisations, various authorities and communities, because the problem is wide and multi-faceted and the elements of the railway safety system are interrelated. The choice of the most effective or suitable countermeasure depends on the effectiveness of different measures, location and the characteristics of entry.

Kuvio

Figure 1. Map of the city of Lappeenranta (City of Lappeenranta 2007). The black  line from bottom left to upper right shows the passenger traffic railway
Figure 2. Annual number of fatalities in the category others (mainly trespassers)  1959–2008
Table 1 shows that the majority of both victims of trespassing accidents and  trespassers were adults or elderly people (substudies II, III and IV)
Figure 3. Respondents’ perceived safety of trespassing versus their own trespassing.
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LIITTYVÄT TIEDOSTOT

Therefore, to say that the knowledge gained in this study is scientific, is to claim that it meets the general criteria of scientific knowledge, and to say that the knowledge is new