Marseille-L’estaque english summary

On Tuesday 16 April 2013 at about 8.25, in Marseille in Bouches-du-Rhône, a mobile crane being driven on an urban road, the Chemin du Passet, was hit as it was crossing level crossing No 1 on the Miramas to Marseille railway line passing via the Côte Bleue, by a TER regional express train which was going to Marseille-Saint-Charles station.
This collision caused the injury of 32 people, two of whom had to be hospitalised : the mobile crane driver and the train driver.

The direct and immediate cause of the accident was the fact that the mobile crane was at a halt on the level crossing when its two half-barriers came down, and it was too late for the vehicle to start again and leave the track area before being hit by the train.
Four factors contributed to this situation :

  • the lack of preparation for this mobile crane’s journey from its depot to its destination worksite which, combined with the absence of an on-board GPS, resulted in its driver getting lost and taking the street leading to the above-mentioned level crossing, whose characteristics, on the other side of the railway line, were incompatible with its size ;
  • the absence of signs indicating that it is impossible for large vehicles going down this street to pursue their route on the other side of the level crossing, which meant that the mobile crane’s driver did not realise he was entering a dead-end for his vehicle ;
  • the fact that this driver was on his mobile phone at the moment he was entering the level crossing, which meant he was not paying sufficient attention to his surroundings and lengthened his reaction time ;
  • insufficient knowledge of what conduct to adopt in the case of difficulties being encountered on a level crossing, which did not allow the road driver to react with the speed required.

In view of these facts, BEA-TT recommends that the Préfecture of Bouches-du-Rhône and the City of Marseille should prohibit heavy vehicles from crossing the level crossing concerned, driving from the west of the Miramas to Marseille railway line, whose characteristics are incompatible with crossing to the other side of this railway line.

Furthermore, BEA-TT invites :

  • the FNTP (French Publics Works Federation), the TLF (Union of French Transport and Logistics Companies) and the UFL (French Lifting Union) to encourage their members to fit all their public works and logistics vehicles with a GPS system dedicated to heavy goods vehicles ;
  • the road safety stakeholders to pursue the awareness-raising initiatives they take with private individuals and companies regarding the danger of using mobile phones and, more generally, computer media, when driving.

Lastly, BEA-TT draws the attention of the instructors of professional road drivers and of the public authorities to the need to raise the awareness of road users regarding the shortness of the level crossing operating cycles, and of the fact it is possible to break the barriers when they are stuck on the railway track.

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