ESA title


  • ACTIVITYFeasibility Study
  • STATUSOngoing
  • THEMATIC AREAInfrastructure & Smart Cities, Transport & Logistics, Safety & Security

Objectives of the service

The services proposed in this study are meant to increasing road users’ safety when crossing a level crossing and thus, the decrease of fatal accidents at level crossings representing the second cause of railways fatalities in EU. The scope of this study the design of a system able to provide the functionalities listed below and demonstrate the feasibility of the services which are made available to level crossing users.

  1. Help to road users - both vulnerable (i.e., pedestrians, cyclist, motor bikers, etc.) and motorized ones (i.e., cars, trucks, special vehicles, etc.) - with their decision-making process in crossing LCs (Level Crossings),

  2. Help to entities responsible of LC maintenance with work optimization by giving information on LC infrastructures’ status, 

  3. Data sharing with rail network management entities which in turn are asked to provide, if possible, accurate train PVT and LCs’ positions.

The main objectives of the project are listed below.

  1. Definition of system requirements in accordance with stakeholders starting from the collection of user needs.

  2. System architecture design with a deep analysis of technical and economic feasibility and viability,

  3. Definition of the implementation roadmap to bring the system to market.

Users and their needs

The proposed system is conceived for road users (i.e., level crossing users) and, private and statal railway management entities, in particular those responsible for level crossing maintenance. The countries of the target users are EU states. Road user needs will be further defined in the first part of the study. To do so, for the definition of road user needs, road users from EU and, if possible, non-EU countries will be asked for responding to a questionnaire. On the other hand, the needs of railway management entities will be defined by directly speaking with the interested figures. From user needs, both user and system requirements will be defined. All the collected needs will be anyway aimed at guaranteeing higher safety standard to road users while crossing level crossing and, from an economical point of view, allow railway entities to organize better their work and thus save money. Also, EU countries will save money because the operation of this system would imply a decrease of railway accident and thus a decrease of eventual hospitalizations and use of emergency vehicles.

Service/ system concept

The priority services provided by the proposed system through the exploitation of space assets are the following ones.

  • Real-time monitoring of rail and road traffic in proximity of level crossings with related alert service to road users and rail network management entities.

  • Monitoring of level crossing surroundings to assess the level of train visibility. 

  • Creation of a risk scale, assignment of a grade of risk to each level crossing considering its most critical issues and statistics calculation. 

  • Processing of data coming from space assets, recovery of information related to level crossing status and alerts to road users and rail network management entities. 

  • Level crossing grades of risk and, both qualitative and quantitative information delivering to the entities responsible of level crossing maintenance.

  • Provision of ad hoc applications to all users for data sharing and level crossing alerting service availability.

The non-priority services provided through the integration of ground technologies are listed hereafter.

  • Real-time monitoring of the surroundings of the most critical level crossings including obstacle detection on the rails and eventual alerts to train network management entities which in turn can alert the interested trains.

  • Alerts to road users about the presence of passive level crossings using visual/acoustic signals and/or Bluetooth through the installation of interactive signs.

The economic feasibility related to the exploitation and deployment of ground devices is investigated through the course of the project. In the figure below, an overview of the system’s architecture is given.

Space Added Value

The considered space assets for the proposed solution are GNSS and Satellite EO system. They are integral to provide unprecedented low-cost services able to drastically improve road user safety at level crossings.

  • GNSS technology, key element for the real-time monitoring of road traffic. GNSS asset enables road users to share their PVT data with the system. Regarding road users’ PVT information, it is directly acquired from GNSS sensors installed on users’ electronic devices enabling system’s PVT services at low cost exploiting the hardware already integrated on users’ devices. Without GNSS, the real-time monitoring of road traffic could not be affordable in terms of costs because of the high number of devices installed nearby level crossings implying high executive costs. 

  • Satellite EO technology, key element for the periodic monitoring of passive level crossing surroundings giving information about train visibility mainly influenced by vegetation growth, weather conditions, LC geometry and other secondary factors. Satellite EO could be also exploited in territories characterized by hydrogeological instability for the monitoring of landslide/flooding dangers nearby level crossings. A good compromise between costs and performance is the use of free data, coming from both optical (e.g., PRISMA, SENTINEL) and radar (e.g., SAOCOM, Cosmo-SkyMed) satellites, retrieved from dedicated data providers (e.g., SentinelHub).

Current Status

The activity has been kicked-off in October 2023. During the first  months the user needs as well as user and system requirements have been defined together with a preliminary architecture and service definition, and Economic Viability Analysis. The Requirements Review took place successfully in January 2024. The SSDR (Service and System Design Review) is scheduled in April 2024.

Prime Contractor(s)


Status Date

Updated: 08 February 2024