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  • FIRST POST
    • modsandmockers
    • By modsandmockers 8th Jan 15, 4:19 PM
    • 752Posts
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    modsandmockers
    Railway level crossings
    • #1
    • 8th Jan 15, 4:19 PM
    Railway level crossings 8th Jan 15 at 4:19 PM
    Every now and again, I get a bee in my bonnet about some issue or other, and I have recently been enjoying a discussion on this forum about whether or not it is reasonable for cyclists to expect to be allowed to continue with their historic rights to unencumbered access to the public highway when every other group of highway users is extremely tightly regulated, and at considerable cost to themselves.

    Near where I live, there is a taxpayer-subsidised railway branch line which passes through several villages on its route from one major town to another. It mostly consists of an occasional single diesel-powered railway coach which trundles across the countryside at a very leisurely pace, with never more than a handful of passengers, except at commuter times.

    Each village on its route has a train station which is immediately adjacent to the village High Streetís railway level crossing, and every train stops at every station. I recently stood on the platform at one of the village stations, and I watched my train pull into the station previous to mine and come to a halt in order to drop off and pick up probably no passengers at all. But in the meantime, the road next to where I was standing had been closed by the automated level crossing gates, and a large number of road users, including cyclists, had to stop for many minutes in order to wait for the single train carriage, probably carrying very few passengers, to get its act together and exercise its historic right to be allowed to take priority over the otherwise free access to the public highway.

    There are regular reports of fatalities on unmanned level crossings because road users fail to respect the idea that they should have to stand in a stationary queue of road traffic for many minutes at a time, whilst the next scheduled train is stationary at a previous station somewhere down the line.

    Modern trains, especially single-coaches, are no less able to stop at a level-crossing than a lorry of a similar size. In fact, since many lorries are not particularly well-maintained, it might well be true that trains are better able to stop.

    IMHO, the reason why rural railway branch lines are allowed to continue to shut down the highway purely to suit their own convenience is a historical accident which is in urgent need of review. What would be wrong with the idea that it should be the train carriage which should be required to stop at a level crossing, and wait until its path is clear?

    Obviously, none of this applies to existing high-speed mainline rail services, but I very much doubt whether the plans for HS2 include any kind of level crossing.
Page 2
    • Strider590
    • By Strider590 9th Jan 15, 11:27 AM
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    Strider590
    There's a hint of "I have a car, i'm more important" to this thread.
    ďI may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an a** of yourself.Ē

    <><><><><><><><><<><><><><><><><><><><><><> Don't forget to like and subscribe \/ \/ \/
    • Cycrow
    • By Cycrow 9th Jan 15, 11:40 AM
    • 2,601 Posts
    • 1,474 Thanks
    Cycrow
    There's a hint of "I have a car, i'm more important" to this thread.
    Originally posted by Strider590
    seems like a pattern is emerging
    • ChumpusRex
    • By ChumpusRex 9th Jan 15, 12:55 PM
    • 346 Posts
    • 313 Thanks
    ChumpusRex
    I disagree - people still die!
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    There are asymmetric costs. A train may take several hundred yards to stop, and several minutes to accelerate again.

    Stopping a train, for any reason, can result in serious delays, because it takes so long to regain the lost speed. More importantly, because of railway scheduling, these delays will propagate throughout the rail network.

    On the other hand, the cost of stopping a road vehicle is minimal, and the cost of lost time is also small, due to the faster acceleration.

    That is the reason that priorities are as they are.

    Where level crossing accidents have occurred, in over 95% of cases, it is because motorists either carelessly or deliberately drive through the crossing during a time of danger (i.e. lights flashing and barriers down - or at an unmanned crossing, by failing to request permission to cross) - or pedestrians have climbed over barriers or failed to stop, look and listen at unmanned crossings.
    • peachyprice
    • By peachyprice 9th Jan 15, 2:10 PM
    • 20,442 Posts
    • 47,385 Thanks
    peachyprice

    On rural branch lines, with only occasional trains, I don't really understand why the train should not be required to stop just before the level crossing, and wait until the automatic gates have made it safe for the train to proceed.
    Originally posted by modsandmockers

    How does that work then?

    The automated barrier is linked to the signals on the track, approaching train triggers the lights and barrier when it passes a certain point on the track

    How will the barrier to stop the train proceeding know when there is no more traffic coming without traffic lights to stop cars?
    Last edited by peachyprice; 09-01-2015 at 2:13 PM.
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
    • Rolandtheroadie
    • By Rolandtheroadie 9th Jan 15, 2:37 PM
    • 4,870 Posts
    • 4,251 Thanks
    Rolandtheroadie

    Level crossings and station stops are entirely predictable, and should present no problem at all to any part of the railway planning system, especially on lightly used rural branch lines.
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    When planning, I'd imagine they would have said "That level crossings a bit close to the station, what if the train overshoots it's stop?"
    Simple. Make sure the road is shut when a train is on approach, just incase it overshoots it's stop.
    • Marco Panettone
    • By Marco Panettone 9th Jan 15, 4:57 PM
    • 641 Posts
    • 733 Thanks
    Marco Panettone
    There's a hint of "I have a car, i'm more important" to this thread.
    Originally posted by Strider590
    There's much more than a hint of "I'm fishing for reactions from idiotic statements that can be taken apart by pretty much everyone and even I know to be stupid".


    Like most posts from this user.
    It's only numbers.
    • mgdavid
    • By mgdavid 9th Jan 15, 5:47 PM
    • 6,324 Posts
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    mgdavid
    I think the OP should do a lot of field research into different scenarios at these crossings. Hopefully the issue would sooner or later solve itself
    The questions that get the best answers are the questions that give most detail....
    • jbuchanangb
    • By jbuchanangb 9th Jan 15, 7:33 PM
    • 457 Posts
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    jbuchanangb
    Today I sat at the gates at Cheshunt Station LC while FOUR trains went by. I'd rather wait than be hit by the Stansted Express, thank you.

    In Billericay, Public Footpath No. 7, which crosses the line by a pedestrian level crossing is currently closed while Network Rail install a footbridge.

    Excellent. This will make the walking route much safer for every one.

    On the rural line referred to by the OP, trains are so infrequent that motorists are not held up very often, so what's the problem?
    • esuhl
    • By esuhl 9th Jan 15, 9:12 PM
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    esuhl
    When planning, I'd imagine they would have said "That level crossings a bit close to the station, what if the train overshoots it's stop?"
    Simple. Make sure the road is shut when a train is on approach, just incase it overshoots it's stop.
    Originally posted by scotsman4th
    There's a level-crossing across a 4-lane dual carriageway where I went to school. The station is immediately before the crossing, but the barriers only come down after the train stops at the station (for trains travelling in that direction).

    One day, due to "leaves on the line", the brakes failed, the emergency sand/grit release made little difference, and the train shot through the station, across four lanes of traffic, and came to a stop further up the line. I don't know how we missed hitting any cars. (The facial expressions of the Mercedes driver we narrowly missed were priceless.)

    Anyway, it seems perfectly reasonable to lower the barriers prematurely to prevent similar accidents occurring in future. The train must have travelled about two miles with its brakes on. The OP's idea that trains can always stop as quickly as lorries is as ludicrous as everything else he says.
    • modsandmockers
    • By modsandmockers 10th Jan 15, 3:40 PM
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    modsandmockers
    ChumpusRex - The stopping distance of the heaviest train allowed on that line, at the speed limit is calculated, and this is used to map an exclusion zone around the crossing. If any train is in the exclusion zone, the level crossing closes and stays closed.

    I understand what you say - my point is that on a lightly-used branch line, I donít understand why it is regarded as impossible to consider the possibility that a single coach with very few passengers should be able to make a planned stop at a level crossing which is adjacent to a planned station stop as an alternative to holding up dozens of road-users.

    WealdRoam - Interesting to note that 800-odd level crossings have been closed recently.

    I can only guess that the reason for so many closures is to try to reduce the number of fatalities. But maybe some of those closures would have been made unnecessary simply by reversing the traffic priorities

    ChumpusRex - Where level crossing accidents have occurred, in over 95% of cases, it is because motorists either carelessly or deliberately drive through the crossing during a time of danger (i.e. lights flashing and barriers down - or at an unmanned crossing, by failing to request permission to cross) - or pedestrians have climbed over barriers or failed to stop, look and listen at unmanned crossings.

    There is no doubt that level crossing fatalities are almost always the fault of the deceased. Thatís because road users are generally poorly trained and disciplined. Railway staff, on the other hand, undergo regular training and are tightly regulated, and therefore it should not be unreasonable on lightly-used branch lines for the railway to accept the responsibility for ensuring the safety of road-users on these rarely-used level crossings

    PeachyPrice - The automated barrier is linked to the signals on the track, approaching train triggers the lights and barrier when it passes a certain point on the track

    How will the barrier to stop the train proceeding know when there is no more traffic coming without traffic lights to stop cars?

    Peachy - I would suspect that the guys who designed the automatic barriers in the first place would have little difficulty in swapping the priorities

    Scotsman4th - When planning, I'd imagine they would have said "That level crossings a bit close to the station, what if the train overshoots it's stop?"
    Simple. Make sure the road is shut when a train is on approach, just incase it overshoots it's stop

    The train is far less likely to overshoot itís stop than a road-user is likely to ignore the stop signals on the road. I have no evidence to support my belief that most people who die on rarely-used rural crossings are people who live locally, and habitually ignore the stop signals until one day they get unlucky.

    jbuchanangb - On the rural line referred to by the OP, trains are so infrequent that motorists are not held up very often, so what's the problem?

    The opposite is also true - the single carriage trains are usually carrying very few passengers, and the train would be delayed for a shorter time than the dozens of road users who regularly have to wait for many minutes. The frequency of the event is hardly relevant - the problem is that road users can and do ignore the signals, whereas train drivers know better.

    esuhl - There's a level-crossing across a 4-lane dual carriageway where I went to school. The station is immediately before the crossing, but the barriers only come down after the train stops at the station (for trains travelling in that direction).

    I find that hard to believe - check out ChumpusRexís comment at the top of this post.

    One day, due to "leaves on the line", the brakes failed, the emergency sand/grit release made little difference, and the train shot through the station, across four lanes of traffic, and came to a stop further up the line. I don't know how we missed hitting any cars. (The facial expressions of the Mercedes driver we narrowly missed were priceless.)

    For every near-miss like that one, there are probably dozens of near-misses due to road-users choosing to ignore the stop signals.

    Anyway, it seems perfectly reasonable to lower the barriers prematurely to prevent similar accidents occurring in future. The train must have travelled about two miles with its brakes on. The OP's idea that trains can always stop as quickly as lorries is as ludicrous as everything else he says.

    The difference between stopping a train and stopping a lorry is that train stops can be planned in advance, and that is why they are potentially much more reliable than truck stops.

    I think its worth pointing out that I have no expectation at all that anything is likely to change in regards to rural level crossings - I just have a questioning sort of a mind, and enjoy exposing my ideas to public scrutiny. Call me a troll if you like, but please don't use that term simply because you disagree with me.
    • esuhl
    • By esuhl 10th Jan 15, 5:21 PM
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    esuhl
    esuhl - There's a level-crossing across a 4-lane dual carriageway where I went to school. The station is immediately before the crossing, but the barriers only come down after the train stops at the station (for trains travelling in that direction).

    I find that hard to believe - check out ChumpusRexís comment at the top of this post.
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    I find you hard to believe. British Rail (or Railtrack or Network Rail -- whoever it was back then) tried to deny the incident, but fortunately it was a London-bound commuter train with journalists on their way to work... so it was reported in the main news channels. I'm sure you'd love to spend a few hours trying to find the reports in the archives. Off you go.

    If you don't believe me, check out my comments above. Just re-read them until it sinks in.

    One day, due to "leaves on the line", the brakes failed, the emergency sand/grit release made little difference, and the train shot through the station, across four lanes of traffic, and came to a stop further up the line. I don't know how we missed hitting any cars. (The facial expressions of the Mercedes driver we narrowly missed were priceless.)
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    For every near-miss like that one, there are probably dozens of near-misses due to road-users choosing to ignore the stop signals.
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    Ha ha!!! Not at this crossing -- as I said it's across a four-lane dual-carriageway and obviously has pretty large barriers to stop lunatic drivers from ignoring the signals!

    Anyway, it seems perfectly reasonable to lower the barriers prematurely to prevent similar accidents occurring in future. The train must have travelled about two miles with its brakes on. The OP's idea that trains can always stop as quickly as lorries is as ludicrous as everything else he says.
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    The difference between stopping a train and stopping a lorry is that train stops can be planned in advance, and that is why they are potentially much more reliable than truck stops.
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    Good grief! Obviously the train was supposed to stop before missing a station and shooting across a level-crossing with no warning lights and the barriers up!!!

    Can you imaging a lorry skidding for two miles or so, with its brakes having no perceivable effect?!

    And yet you think that stopping a train is more reliable and predictable than stopping a lorry?! If you're not a troll, you're a very misinformed person!
    • peachyprice
    • By peachyprice 10th Jan 15, 5:38 PM
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    • 47,385 Thanks
    peachyprice
    PeachyPrice - The automated barrier is linked to the signals on the track, approaching train triggers the lights and barrier when it passes a certain point on the track

    I would suspect that the guys who designed the automatic barriers in the first place would have little difficulty in swapping the priorities
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    You've missed the point entirely.

    The train runs to a timetable, cars don't. How will the barriers know when to stop the trains? Cars come at random times and with random frequency. Do you suggest they could stop the trains until a there's a gap in traffic and make a run for it hoping no cars come in the meantime?

    I makes no sense. There would still have to be traffic lights to stop the traffic otherwise the train could sit there all day waiting for a long enough gap to get going again.
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
    • modsandmockers
    • By modsandmockers 10th Jan 15, 5:53 PM
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    • 224 Thanks
    modsandmockers
    I find you hard to believe. British Rail (or Railtrack or Network Rail -- whoever it was back then) tried to deny the incident, but fortunately it was a London-bound commuter train with journalists on their way to work... so it was reported in the main news channels. I'm sure you'd love to spend a few hours trying to find the reports in the archives. Off you go.

    If you don't believe me, check out my comments above. Just re-read them until it sinks in.

    If the event was reported on the main news channels, then it was clearly an exceptional event which has no bearing at all on a normal daily experience.

    Ha ha!!! Not at this crossing -- as I said it's across a four-lane dual-carriageway and obviously has pretty large barriers to stop lunatic drivers from ignoring the signals!

    All my comments have been intended to refer to lightly-used rural level crossings, and I've tried to make that clear several times

    Good grief! Obviously the train was supposed to stop before missing a station and shooting across a level-crossing with no warning lights and the barriers up!!!

    Can you imaging a lorry skidding for two miles or so, with its brakes having no perceivable effect?!

    On the particular line which I have in mind, there is less than two miles between most of the stations!

    And yet you think that stopping a train is more reliable and predictable than stopping a lorry?! If you're not a troll, you're a very misinformed person!
    Originally posted by esuhl
    If stopping a train is as unreliable as you say, then we are all in greater danger than we ever imagined,
    • modsandmockers
    • By modsandmockers 10th Jan 15, 6:01 PM
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    modsandmockers
    You've missed the point entirely.

    The train runs to a timetable, cars don't. How will the barriers know when to stop the trains? Cars come at random times and with random frequency. Do you suggest they could stop the trains until a there's a gap in traffic and make a run for it hoping no cars come in the meantime?

    I makes no sense. There would still have to be traffic lights to stop the traffic otherwise the train could sit there all day waiting for a long enough gap to get going again.
    Originally posted by peachyprice
    The whole point is that the barriers will always stop the train - when the barriers have sensed that the train has stopped, then the road will be closed as normal, and the train will proceed. Road users will have no temptation to jump the crossing, and neither the train nor the road traffic will have been significantly delayed. Please remember that I am referring only to lightly used branch lines, which are where most of the fatalities seem to occur.
    • wealdroam
    • By wealdroam 10th Jan 15, 6:19 PM
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    wealdroam
    Please remember that I am referring only to lightly used branch lines, which are where most of the fatalities seem to occur.
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    Still waiting for some sort of confirmation of that statement... as requested in post#17
    • Running On Empty
    • By Running On Empty 10th Jan 15, 6:31 PM
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    Running On Empty
    Armyknife, have you solved your other problem yet of the aircraft crossing the motorway?
    • modsandmockers
    • By modsandmockers 10th Jan 15, 7:14 PM
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    modsandmockers
    Still waiting for some sort of confirmation of that statement... as requested in post#17
    Originally posted by wealdroam
    Here is the content of the link which you posted in #17 (unfortunately the formatting is not as good as in the original document). I can see no differentiation in the figures between mainline level crossings and rural branch line level crossings. And, in general, the only really noticeable figure is the closure of 804 level crossings, which has already been referred to on this thread.

    There is no indication that any consideration was given to the possibility of changing the priorities on some of those crossings, as an alternative to closing them completely. I think it would have been called BlueSkyThinking, but what do I know - I'm just a clapped out ex-trucker... But I thought this statement was interesting - 804 level crossings were closed in the control period contributing to a 31% reduction in the overall level of predicted risk as measured by the LCRIM against an internal target of 25% for the control period. - what is the meaning of a 31% reduction in predicted risk? Was the actual risk reduced, or did it remain the same? Maybe it actually increased... who can tell?


    Level crossing events

    Definition
    This measure comprises the number of incidents where a motorised vehicle is struck by, or strikes, a train or any incident where a pedestrian or user of a non-motorised vehicle is struck and fatally injured by a train, or any near miss with a motorised vehicle or non-motorised vehicle or pedestrian. The table below shows deliberate level crossing misuse for 2013/14 compared with previous years.

    Results
    Level crossing events
    2009/10

    2010/11

    2011/12

    2012/13

    2013/14

    Level crossing events (MAA) England & Wales
    26.07

    27.91

    29.15

    27.00

    26.69

    Level crossing events (MAA) Scotland
    2.23

    1.47

    1.85

    1.31

    1.31

    Level crossing events (MAA) Network-wide
    28.38

    29.38

    31.00

    28.31

    27.00

    Collisions with road vehicles
    14

    5

    10

    10

    10

    Train striking pedestrian
    8

    4

    3

    4

    5

    Near miss with road vehicle
    138

    113

    110

    95

    95

    Near miss with non-vehicle users
    209

    260

    279

    259

    241

    Commentary
    There were seven adult fatalities and no child fatalities at level crossings during the year. The total number of significant level crossing incidents for the year was 351, compared with 368 in the previous year, and the rate of significant level crossing events at the end of the period was 27.00, compared with 28.31 last year, and is at its lowest rate for the control period. Level crossing risk reduced by 10.49% during 2013/14 as measured by the Level Crossing Risk Indicator Model (LCRIM).

    Despite the numbers fluctuating from year-to-year, there was a detectable reduction in trains striking pedestrians and in near-misses reported with road vehicles at level crossings. There was no detectable change in road vehicle collisions or near misses reported with non-vehicle users. 804 level crossings were closed in the control period contributing to a 31% reduction in the overall level of predicted risk as measured by the LCRIM against an internal target of 25% for the control period.

    We continue to implement our strategy for reducing level crossing risk, including the continuation of our annual national advertising campaign aimed at raising awareness for motorists of the dangers of misusing level crossings.


    If I am correct in my belief that most level crossing incidents involve local people who, because of their local knowledge, habitually ignore the warning signs until the day their luck runs out, then it is hard to know what purpose is likely to be served by a national advertising campaign.
    • esuhl
    • By esuhl 10th Jan 15, 7:40 PM
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    esuhl
    If stopping a train is as unreliable as you say, then we are all in greater danger than we ever imagined,
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    No we're not; it just you! The rest of us are quite aware that trains can take a long time to stop.

    You must have missed all the railway safety videos. Had railways been invented when you were at school?
    • jbuchanangb
    • By jbuchanangb 10th Jan 15, 9:09 PM
    • 457 Posts
    • 158 Thanks
    jbuchanangb
    Here is a report of a train failing to stop at a station due to slippery track, and passing across a level crossing.
    http://raib.gov.uk/cms_resources.cfm?file=/111117_R182011_Stonegate.pdf
    Fortunately the level crossing was fully automatic and closed its barriers across the road even though the train was out of control
    • peachyprice
    • By peachyprice 10th Jan 15, 9:38 PM
    • 20,442 Posts
    • 47,385 Thanks
    peachyprice
    The whole point is that the barriers will always stop the train - when the barriers have sensed that the train has stopped, then the road will be closed as normal, and the train will proceed. Road users will have no temptation to jump the crossing, and neither the train nor the road traffic will have been significantly delayed. Please remember that I am referring only to lightly used branch lines, which are where most of the fatalities seem to occur.
    Originally posted by modsandmockers
    So the barriers stop the train, then more barriers stop the cars, once the cars have stopped the train moves on?

    How is that going to be any quicker than the current level crossing? By the time the train has stopped, the cars have stopped and the train has started up an moved on the cars will have waited for the same amount of time.
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
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