Bizanos english summary

On Sunday May 29, 2022, shortly after 5 p.m., passenger train no. 8,585 from Tarbes to Paris brushed against the rear of a coach immobilized on level crossing (LC) no. 238 in the commune of Bizanos, Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Visibility conditions were sunny and favorable for driving.
The train, which was in an emergency braking phase when it crossed the level crossing, was travelling at a speed of 65 km/h. It stopped about a hundred meters after the LC. No injuries or material damage were reported on board the train.
The sixty passengers from the struck coach, including 53 children, were evacuated from it before the train reached the LC. No injuries were reported among them, nor to the coach driver. The vehicle was not hit by the train, and was able to continue its journey after being freed.
The railway infrastructure was not damaged following the incident. However, the LC alert telephone had been vandalized before the incident.

The direct cause of this incident was the blocking of the coach, the rear of which was engaging the gauge of a railway track due to the difficult longitudinal profile of the road, a consequence of non-compliance with road signs.
The investigations carried out ruled out the possibility that the bus driver had deliberately brought the vehicle to a standstill.
The LC installations (train detection, flashing red lights, bell ringing and lowering of half-barriers) functioned correctly.
No aspect of the train’s operation appeared to be a cause or a contributory factor in the incident.

Several factors played a part in the incident :
- the coach driver took a route that was forbidden to this type of vehicle and unsuitable for it ;
- blindly relying on the information provided by a satellite navigation application on his phone, he did not perceive or follow the instructions given by the road signs ;
- he drove his vehicle onto the planking without warning SNCF Réseau or having his passengers disembark ;
- the alert was not sent to SNCF Réseau when the coach was immobilized.

These factors point to several root causes, which are the subject of two safety recommendations and two invitations :
- the preparation of the trip did not include a precise examination of the return route ;
- the sometimes less-than-explicit message conveyed by road signs was a source of misinterpretation by the coach driver ;
- following the information on his phone reduced his perception and analysis skills ;
- the LC alert phone could not be used, as it was inoperative following an act of vandalism.

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