The rail infrastructure company Infrabel has plans to introduce thermal cameras on the North-South junction in Brussels to tackle to serious problem of people trespassing on the tracks.
Infrabel last year received 705 reports of people walking on the tracks, and the problem remains a serious one despite 2019 being the second year in a row when the numbers were down, by 8% compared to 2018. The problem is still considered serious enough to work on, not only because of the occasional fatality but also because, for safety reasons, trains a made to slow down in the vicinity of a report of trespassers, which leads to an accumulation of delays on the network.
The North-South junction in Brussels, one of the most used portions of the national rail network, handles 1,200 trains a day, and delays there can affect timetables across the country, from Ostend to Eupen.
The thermal cameras are required because the major portion of the North-South link is underground, and the cameras function in the darkness. “Thanks to a series of pre-defined rules, the cameras are able to tell the difference between a human or animal silhouette and a train or other object,” Infrabel explained.
The minute an intruder is detected, a signal is sent to the control centre for action to be taken. If the intruder is a person, the tunnel is lit up and an automatic message broadcast. Trespassing on the railways at any point other than a dedicated level crossing is an offence, with a fine of between €80 and €2,000.
Last year, trespassing on the tracks led to one fatality and three persons were injured. In 2018, four people died and six were injured. As far as delays are concerned, Infrabel counts the cost at 128,820 minutes in total for 2019, or almost 90 days collectively.
The Brussels Times