B4/2008R Fatal level crossing accident on the Vehkatie level crossing in Kiuruvesi, Finland, on 7 July 2008.

At 22.41.40 on Monday 7 July 2008, a van and a train consisting of two locomotives en route from Ylivieska to Iisalmi collided on the Vehkatie unprotected level crossing in Kiuruvesi, resulting in the death of the van driver. The van was wrecked beyond repair and the locomotive’s front and bogie structures were slightly damaged. The cost of the accident on the railway side was in excess of € 50,000.

The direct cause of the accident was that the van driver drove onto the level crossing without stopping. It is probable that the driver noticed the approaching train too late and was unable to avoid the collision. The evening sun was shining low on the horizon from the direction of the approaching train and this may have made observation difficult. It is possible that the driver’s attention was focused on a newly arrived text message or that the driver was looking for the mobile phone. It is also possible that visibility in the direction of the train was blocked by the vehicle's chassis structures, because the vehicle approached the level crossing at an angle to the track.

In order to prevent the occurrence of similar accidents, the investigation commission recommends the removal of the Vehkatie level crossing. Before its removal, the level crossing should be closed by Kiuruvesi town through temporary arrangements. Also, a track speed limit of 70 km/h should be set to run through the crossing until its removal. Furthermore, "No thoroughfare!" signs should be placed without delay on Vehkatie road and the Ratakatu-Kirkkoharjuntie crossing, and heavy vehicles should be prohibited from driving through the level crossing.

In order to ensure the accuracy of level crossing location information, the investigation commission recommends that emergency response centres update the level crossing location data of their ELS systems to match the tasoristeys.fi database, as set out in the relevant regulations.

B4/2008R Report (pdf, 1.49 Mt)

•Recommendation S259

•Recommendation S260

Published 7.7.2008