The redevelopment of Gamlestadstorget has meant that parts of the square have been cordoned off as a building site and passengers are instructed to use special pathways when changing trams.
“This has led to some passengers walking along the tram tracks instead, despite the fact that this is not permitted,” says Mimmi Mickelsen, track safety planning manager at the transport office in Gothenburg.
The transport office, Göteborgs Spårvägar and Västtrafik have worked together in a number of ways to provide the best possible situation for passengers during the redevelopment work.
“We have had information officers on site, put up warning signs showing where to go and distributed information in several languages. The cordons are clearly marked and are hard to miss.”
Lots of people are taking a short cut across the tracks
Despite this, there has been a large increase in the number of people crossing the tracks over the past year. There were 135 incidents reported in 2015, 161 incidents reported in 2016 and so far this year 730 incidents have been reported. An incident is defined as when a driver sees a person within the track area.
“The real figure is much higher, though, as not all incidents are reported. It is estimated that around 50 people enter the track area every day, despite the fact that this is strictly prohibited,” says Greger Landkvist, traffic safety coordinator and investigations manager at Göteborgs Spårvägar.
Special rules for rail transport apply within the track area and trespassing on the tracks is an offence under the Swedish Law and Order Act.
Stressful for the drivers
People who trespass on the track area are endangering their own lives and those of others and also creating an extremely stressful situation for the drivers passing through the area.
“It is incredibly stressful for our drivers. This is an area where the trams run on a separate embankment and so are usually able to go a little faster. Now our drivers have to crawl along and are always worried that someone will suddenly appear on the tracks.” A 30-metre-long tram weighs over 40 tonnes, which means a long stopping distance even at low speeds.
To help prevent people walking on the tracks, black rubber-pyramid mats, called strails, have been laid, but some people still continue to walk on the tracks.
Every day, the transport office looks for different ways of increasing safety at the site and identifying initiatives to improve the situation. They are currently re-examining the signage to see if the message can be made even clearer. The work will not be sufficiently completed to enable the normal paths to be reopened until June next year at the earliest.