Thursday, 23 August 2012

Offloading the risk

Time for a lick of navy-blue paint to give W-wa Jeziorki station an air of modernity. The platform shelters have been repaired, shatterable glass giving way to corrugated tin and translucent plastic. Platform paving is still insufferably cracked, the chances of tripping and knocking out teeth is as high as it ever was.

But what's this? Where once passengers crossed the tracks to get to the bus stop on ul. Karczunkowska, there's now a barrier, painted regulation navy blue.

Is is coincidence that this barrier was erected days after Poland witnessed yet another level-crossing tragedy - nine Ukrainians killed in a minibus that was hit by a train? [Incidentally, the minibus driver was seven times over the drink-drive limit, but that's another story.]

Does PKP wish to demonstrate its commitment to safety by preventing passengers from nipping across the tracks to get to the bus stop?

The alternative to the tracks is crossing along the road (above). There is no pavement; pedestrians share the tarmac with motorised traffic, on the wrong side of the road (i.e back turned to oncoming vehicles). It is evident that taking your chances with the 30 trains a day that rumble northward over this track, heralded by green signal lights, lowered barriers and hooting horns, is a far, far lesser risk than the 300+ vehicles an hour (at peak times) that charge past you unannounced as you cross the tracks on foot via the level crossing.

It's just that if you die, you are a road traffic accident victim, not a railway accident victim, so you don't show up on PKP's statistics. Spychotechnika in Polish, 'buck passing' in English. ZDM's problem, not PKP's.

The correct solution would be to lay some asphalt to form a pedestrian crossing from the platform to ul. Karczunkowska that's independent of the carriageway. But there's no precedent for that. For the time being, until someone gets hit by a car at the level crossing, PKP can rest assured that W-wa Jeziorki station is compliant with regulations and there's no unauthorised crossing of the tracks by passengers looking for a safer way.

Above: Yet the additional impediment of a new barrier is not putting passengers off from crossing where they always have crossed. It's just become less convenient, and ironically, less safe. Why can't common sense be allowed to prevail?

This time last year:
Seasonal fruit - eat it in bulk, while you can!

This time three years ago:
Russia-Polish 'unification', 1939-style

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