Skoda is testing out a new system that could help reduce the risk of accidents involving vehicles and trains at level crossings.
The new train warning software, which is being trialled by Skoda in association with Czech railway firm Leo Express, allows real-time train locations to be transmitted to the cloud, which Skoda communicates to any of its vehicles with its Traffication infotainment app.
If a driver comes up to a level crossing when a train is approaching, a warning will be shown on the central infotainment accompanied by an audible alert. In the UK, Skoda’s Traffication app already warns drivers about severe weather, cars going against the flow of traffic and bad road conditions, but it is hoped that this new train detection system could be implemented soon.
According to the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), there were 992 near misses between trains and road vehicles at level crossings in the UK between 2011 and 2021, with an average of 99 near-misses per year.
There were also 8,264 ‘instances of vehicles misusing level crossings’ by travelling over them when it was unsafe to do so between 2014 and 2021. An average of 1,181 motorists drive through level crossings when it is unsafe each year, with 621 incidents recorded from 2020 to 2021 alone. Some 1,015 incidents were recorded from 2019 to 2020.
Britain currently has close to 6,000 level crossings, yet only a third feature some form of alert to warn drivers of an oncoming train, according to Network Rail. A Freedom of Information request issued by Skoda also found that there were four collisions between trains and vehicles at level crossings in the past year alone.