Millas english summary

On Thursday 14 December 2017 at about 4:07 pm, the passenger train connecting Villefranche Vernet-les-Bains to Perpignan collided with a school coach on level crossing no. 25, located on departmental road no. 612 in Millas in the Pyrénées-Oriental.
This violent collision resulted in the death of six teenagers and serious injuries to 18 more people on the bus, and minor injuries to a few passengers on the train. This caused extensive damage to the school bus as well as to railway equipment and infrastructure.

At the end of its investigations, BEA-TT considered that :
1. there was no malfunction in the rail traffic, nor in the triggering of the level crossing 25 equipment ;
2. the direct cause of this accident is that the coach did not stop at the level crossing despite the flashing red lights and barrier ;
3. the most likely scenario for this accident is that the coach driver did not perceive the closed state of the level crossing despite the signs there.

Several factors may have played a role in this accident occurring :
- reduced visibility of the positional light signals, in particular the right flashing red light ;
- stop bells at the level crossing as the half-gates were lowered. Before completing its left turn, the coach driver therefore had no audible information indicating that the halfgates were down ;
- the attention which the coach driver had to pay to turn in a constrained environment may not have allowed her to perceive the flashing red lights ;
- the proximity of the road junction to the level crossing. Due to this reduced distance, the driver ended her left turn within one metre of the lowered half-gate. The half-gate was therefore in the coach’s front blind spot, and therefore not visible to the driver ;
- non-identification of the previous constraints in the level crossing 25 safety diagnosis.

BEA-TT made recommendations in view of these items relating to :
- the level crossings’ position signalling are qualified as road equipment ;
- the study to adapt intersections on either side of the level crossing 25 for turning of heavy vehicles ;
- changes in the methods of performing safety diagnostics ;
- The feasibility of installing surveillance cameras on the level crossing and frontal cameras on trains.
- The possibility to have a directional audible continuous alarm from the time that the barriers are lowered until they are lifted again ;
- the feasibility of postponing a level crossing

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