The Australian Level Crossing Assessment Model (ALCAM) is an assessment tool used to identify key potential risks at level crossings and to assist in the prioritisation of crossings for upgrades. The risk model is used to support a decision making process for both road and pedestrian level crossings and to help determine the most cost effective treatments.
At the May 2003 Australian Transport Council (ATC) meeting all state and territory transport ministers agreed to adopt this innovative method of risk assessment. ALCAM is currently applied across all Australian States and in New Zealand and is overseen by a committee of representatives from the various jurisdictions to ensure its consistency of development and application. New South Wales is represented on the committee by Transport for NSW.
The ALCAM road model comprises of three separate components: the Infrastructure model, the Exposure model and the Consequence model. When combined, these three components produce a unique risk score for each level crossing.
The weightings within the Infrastructure and Consequence Models have been determined through both accident analysis and through a series of workshops by an expert group. This group has included representatives from each mainland state of Australia. In excess of 100 individuals, primarily from Australia’s road and rail jurisdictions, have been involved in the development of ALCAM from its conception in 1999 through to the present. All three components of the ALCAM model have been validated against a combined dataset of 10 years of Australian and New Zealand level crossing collision data.
ALCAM can be used to:
- highlight where specific risks or deficiencies exist
- quantify the expected consequences of a collision
- quantify the probability of a collision
- compare the relative risk between crossings within a region or jurisdiction
- model the effect of treatments to address these risks.
An integrated data management system (the Level Crossing Management System – LXM) is used to allow for the effective management of ALCAM data as well as other important information. LXM contains a number of additional reporting and modelling tools to assist with the overall decision-making process. The model should be applied by road and railway engineers trained in the use of ALCAM.
Although it is a comprehensive tool for the assessment of level crossing risks, ALCAM cannot be applied in isolation and does not preclude the need for sound engineering judgement and site specific risk assessment. Any risk assessment and treatment also needs to consider other factors, including but not limited to:
- Collision and near-collision history
- Engineering experience (both rail and road)
- Local knowledge of driver or pedestrian behaviour
- Social and economic assessment
- Standards and international best practice
ALCAM does not provide warrants for upgrades or attempt to define a ‘safe’ or acceptable level of risk. This is a decision for each jurisdiction and will depend on the standard of existing crossings, upgrade budgets and the level of risk that they are prepared to tolerate.
It is also very important to ensure that all stakeholders associated with the particular level crossing are involved with the determination of the final recommended treatment.
For more information on ALCAM visit alcam.com.au