As a public transportation company De Lijn takes advantage of every opportunity to improve its own safety, that of its customers - whether that be tourists or commuters - as well as the other road users. De Lijn's safety measures always rest on the following three pillars: infrastructure works, training and awareness.
The coastal tram is very important for our coast. The tram is like a connecting thread along the coast and is an attraction for many tourists. We transported 12.5 million passengers along the coast in 2009. The coastal tram is also invaluable for coastal residents. The tram reduces traffic in the coastal communities. It also contributes to the economic and social prosperity of the region.
No means of transportation is without danger, including the coastal tram.
Serious efforts have been made to increase safety over the last decade.
The areas where cars can cross the tracks have been reduced to an absolute minimum and lanes have been created for traffic that wants to turn left. There are routes for cyclists and pedestrians. A lot of money has been invested in signage along the coastal tram line. Whenever possible the intersections have been given red lights. Most of them work with traffic light influencing. If the light is green for the tram then all the other lights are red so that conflicts are ruled out.
Striking LED panels with flashing lights were also installed near openings in the track. When a tram arrives these panels light up and inform the other traffic. In certain places this installation was supplemented with a bell signal; this is particularly helpful for cyclists and pedestrians. In most places there are traffic signs that make road users aware of the tram's presence. Many crossings were adapted so that there is a safe waiting area between the tram tracks and the road.
To ensure that the coastal tram and regular traffic obstruct each other as little as possible, the coastal tram rides on its own bedding for 80% of its route. In other words, a lane was installed exclusively for the coastal tram. This bedding increases safety and improves the coastal tram's circulation, enabling it to be more punctual.
De Lijn always works with the coastal cities, the province and the Flemish Region for infrastructure works.
All coastal trams were equipped with a soft-front and shovel in 2002. In case of a collision, weak road users can no longer fall under the coastal tram and their injuries are less serious.
These infrastructural efforts are continuously updated on the ground.
We are also working on traffic safety internally at De Lijn. Tram drivers are given extensive training in anticipation and defensive driving every year. In this training the driver learns how to react in different traffic situations. The drivers are also followed closely. Instructors from the driving school ride along with the tram and evaluate the performance of our drivers during the summer. The drivers are supported and coached if necessary.
The new summer season is approaching. Just like in previous years, that will be a magnet for many tourists. Young and old come to the coast to relax and enjoy themselves. That's why we emphasise the importance of safety just before the summer season begins. The image above was chosen for this annual safety campaign, an image of the coastal tram and children playing on the beach. A tram that travels on tracks in the sand arrives while children play in the sand. The symbolism is clear: we are all small and helpless against such a big tram.
The tram is not like other means of transport. It rides on tracks and therefore cannot swerve. It weighs 50 tons so it has a long braking distance despite its three powerful brake systems: electric brakes on the motors, drum brakes on the wheels and magnetic brakes on the rails.
The normal braking distance* varies in function of the speed
|Speed||Braking distance car||Braking distance tram*|
The tram always has priority, even when weak road users are involved. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, be warned. You must give priority to the tram.
The coastal tram has priority even on a zebra crossing. A zebra crossing only indicates where one can cross; it does not give automatic priority. You must give priority to the tram on protected crossing areas too.
Protected crossings or pedestrian routes have been constructed so that you must look in the direction of the approaching trams when crossing the tracks.
Look carefully when crossing and hold your child's hand!
Modern trams are almost silent and therefore cannot be heard above the regular traffic. Be sure to look carefully and pay attention to traffic signs. Listen out for the typical tram bell that drivers ring before each stop. Coastal trams can follow each other quickly and can come from both directions. Listen carefully and keep your eyes open!
In some places the coastal tram rides along or through dunes and woods. Visibility is reduced here so pay extra attention and make sure that you are not surprised.
In most places the coastal tram rides on its own bedding. That is a lane specially constructed for the tram. It is not for chatting with friends, parking the car, walking the dog, etc. Avoid this bedding and its adjacent parking strips at all times.
If you want to cross the tracks with your car, make sure you do not come to a standstill on the crossing areas. The tram might not be able to stop on time.
The tram doors open and close automatically without the driver's intervention. Passengers push the button to open the doors and the doors close automatically.
A sound signal is always played when the doors close. Sometimes the doors need to stay open a bit longer. Press the button once again to open the doors automatically or stand on the bottom step of the tram door. The doors will not close when someone is standing on the bottom step.