Rail crossings set for repair as anniversary of Studénka tragedy approaches

Rail crossing in Studénka, photo: Kateřina Daňková

The small town of Studénka is just about to mark the first anniversary of its second rail tragedy in a decade. There are plans to do away with the level crossing where three people died when a high-speed train collided with a truck there last year. Meanwhile, two dozen rail crossings around the country are set to be the focus of a major renovation project.

Rail crossing in Studénka,  photo: Kateřina Daňková
On July 22 last year three people were killed when a passenger train travelling at 160 km an hour ploughed into a truck at a level crossing close to the railway station in Studénka in the Moravian-Silesian Region.

The tragedy was caused by a Polish driver who entered the rail crossing despite warning lights and the fact the boom barriers were already coming down. The driver is now serving an eight and a half year prison term.

In 2008 eight people had been killed just two kilometres away when a train hit a collapsed bridge in Studénka. Legal responsibility for the disaster has yet to be determined by the courts.

Twelve months after the latest crash, there are plans to do away with the level crossing in the town.

Despite the tragedy, over 100 drivers have been charged with reckless behaviour at the crossing in the last year – most often ignoring red lights.

Pendolino train that ploughed into a truck in Studénka in 2015,  photo: Kateřina Daňková
Kateřina Šubová is a spokesperson for the Railway Infrastructure Administration.

“Parallel with the fact that a laser detector has been installed there, appropriate technical solutions for halting trains are of course being sought. We have also opted for an intelligent camera system that records the behaviour of reckless drivers; the camera system has a preventative effect.”

Meanwhile, work is being planned on some two dozen Czech level crossings that are in poor repair, according to a Ministry of Transport report quoted on Thursday by Mladá fronta Dnes. The project will cost the state nigh on CZK 2 billion, the newspaper said.

Over 100 level crossings were examined by the study’s authors, who decided to focus on ones on relatively busy lines with fast trains.

Various approaches were considered and some of the crossings are set to be removed, said Kateřina Šubová. The first work should begin next year.

Studénka rail accident in 2008,  photo: Jiří Karlík,  CC BY 2.0 Generic
The Studénka rail crossing ranks among the priority spots in the plans. However, the most demanding single job is likely to be in Pardubice, where an overpass is proposed.

A committee at the Ministry of Transport will now consider each operation in the new report, the Railway Infrastructure Administration’s spokesperson told journalists.