Tag Archives: level crossing closure

Melbourne, Victoria: Another sep forward with AUD 395 million project

8 Feb

The design for a rail-over-road bridge within the AUD 395 million project which will also deliver doubling  of the railway along the Hurstbridge Line corridor and reconstruction of the Rosanna station reconstruction has been finalised. The elimination of the Grange Road level crossing in Alphington is also included within this project

The new rail-over-road bridge will eliminate the Lower Plenty Road level crossing in Rosanna which has long antagonised road users with the traffic congestion attributable to the level crossing at which the barriers can be down 43 minutes in the hour at peak times..

The project is scheduled for completion in 2019

Biloxi, MS: -6+2 = a good deal

7 Feb

Biloxi’s city administration is working with CSX to determine how the number of level crossings in the city can be reduced and traffic flow improved. With 29 level crossings across the city the preferred outcome would see six or more crossings eliminated with two replacement crossings constructed.

The new crossings would be located on the planned extensions of Popp’s Ferry Road and Pine Street. At present the specific crossings targeted for elimination have still to be identified. However, with 20 level crossings in the east of the city between Porter Avenue and Oak Street this CSX corridor looks most likely to deliver options for closures sufficient to justify the new level crossings.

 

 

Now road traffic counts are on-going, the results of which when combined with accident histories should lead to the identification of specific crossings for closure.

Wareham, Dorset, UK: Crossing stand-off continues

14 Apr

The footpath level crossing just metres away from the town’s station continues to generate passion whether for or against eliminating the level crossing.

Despite regulator ORR slapping an improvement notice on Network Rail and Dorset County Council in 2010 to address risk at one of the country’s least safe level crossings, hundreds of people have signed a petition calling for the retention of this level crossing. Meanwhile Network Rail has improved matters on a ‘temporary basis by installing a locking gate and posting an attendant at the crossing. Even with these controls overlaid onto a crossing equipped with warning lights and audible alarms, Network Rail still maintains its position that the crossing needs to be eliminated on safety grounds as misuse is still being reported..

The permanent solution proposed by Network Rail was a ramped access footbridge to replace both this level crossing and the footbridge at the station just metres away. This solution was last year turned down by Purbeck District Council on the grounds that it was too large and increased walking time expected of pedestrians.

Now Dorset County Council and Network Rail are looking at further options.

 

Wool, Dorset UK: new footbridge context misunderstood

13 Apr

Network Rail has completed work to construct a new stepped-access footbridge to eliminate a footpath level crossing. However, there are still many who challenge the decision to approve a stepped rather than ramped design. The logic behind the approval of the stepped design was that access to each end of the footpath level crossing was over a stile at each end which limited the use of the crossing. Thus, as the footbridge was independent of any plan to make the route of which it is a part accessible to the mobility impaired or users with prams and pushchairs, there was no obligation on Network Rail to install a ramped access footbridge replacing a footpath level crossing.

As Network Rail’s objective was to reduce risk by eliminating a high-risk level crossing, complete with sighting constraints extra expenditure on a ramped access design would have been an inappropriate use of regulator approved funding to progress the elimination of level crossings. Even so, the stepped design footbridge has cost in the region of GBP 830,000.

 

St Blazey, UK: Network Rail in the doghouse

3 Feb

The ten-day closure of a busy level crossing on the A390 in St Blazey to road traffic, due to end on February 8th, 2016 is causing traffic chaos and generating bad press for Network Rail. This is because the 25-mile diversionary route is untenable for many people.

Instead there is traffic congestion on narrow country roads as those who would normally use the level crossing look for short cuts along roads that are not equipped for the volume of two-way traffic now flowing. Consideration is being given to reducing the traffic congestion by creation of a temporary one-way system.

Network Rail maintains that the blockade at this time of year has less impact and is an alternative to perhaps a six-week blockade if the existing crossing failed without plans in place to complete the works to the crossing.

Plumpton, UK: Petition calls for compensation

18 Jan

The long-running saga of the Plumpton level crossing “temporarily closed” by Network Rail before the necessary consent was in place has taken an unexpected turn with the launch of a petition addressed to Network Rail calling for compensation for crossing users faced with a seven mile journey to get from one half of the village to the other. The closure has also had a significant impact on bus services, including school services.

The petition has been launched in the context of Network Rail having secured consent from Lewes District Council last week which permits the development of the level crossing in modern form, rather than with gates operated locally. This project is an element of a wider Network Rail area re-signalling scheme.

While the level crossing is to be reopened next month, there are clearly lessons for Network Rail which needs to prevent any further cases of works which close a level crossing to pedestrian and vehicular before the necessary consents are obtained. It is arrogant to proceed with a lengthy closure as at Plumpton without all necessary consents in place.

UK: Ten years on and a very different place

16 Dec

If one event has changed the way in which Network Rail, Britain’s national rail infrastructure manager, thinks about safety, it was the death of two teenage girls on the station pedestrian crossing at Elsenham in Essex in December 2005.

This sea change was from a standard “level crossings are safe if used properly” blame the user rubric to one of a proactive national programme to reduce level crossing risk. But this took relentless pressure from the bereaved to get to the truth behind the deaths of Olivia Bazlinton and Charlotte Thompson. Most visible were Olivia’s parents Tina Hughes and Chris Bazlinton.

The pressure from the families exposed a very sorry state of affairs with unacceptably poor risk management given that long before these Elsenham fatalities, there was knowledge within Network Rail of the need for action to reduce risk so far as was reasonably practicable. This formed the basis of a belated successful prosecution of Network Rail for their failure to manage risk in accordance with health and safety legislation.

Although level crossing safety in Britain compared favourably internationally in 2005, it was in 2010 that Network Rail launched its level crossing safety improvement programme, within which Tina Hughes acts as a users’ champion, for which she was recognised with the award of an MBE.

A key component of the programme has been the recruitment of more than 100 level crossing managers each of whom manages safety at about 60 level crossings, both public and private. The work of these managers is underpinned by a range of initiatives from closure to upgrade, including the adoption of new technologies. Equally important is the relationship these managers build with the authorised users of private crossings and within the community in the case of public crossings.

Since 2010, Network Rail has:

  • Closed 987 level crossings
  • Improved sighting at 1,100 crossings
  • Fitted 494 level crossings with brighter LED lights
  • Fitted 113 level crossings  with spoken audible warnings to announce when “another train is coming” after one train has passed through. This control is a direct outcome of the Elsenham fatalities
  • Fitted 66 sets of barriers at automatic open level crossings
  • Fitted a further 66 crossings with a time delay, preventing a signaller from mistakenly raising the barriers as a train approaches. This control is a direct outcome of the Moreton-on-Lugg fatality
  • Fitted more than 20 level crossings with Home Office approved red light safety cameras which act like speed cameras and capture motorists crossing after the warning sequence has begun
  • Provided the British Transport Police with a fleet of 15 mobile safety vehicles with number plate recognition camera technology introduced to target misuse
  • Begun fitting 81 private level crossings with power operated gates
  • Developed and begun installing a less costly modular footbridge to facilitate elimination of footpath and station pedestrian level crossings
  • With RSSB further developed the All Level Crossing Risk Model (ALCRM) to allow a better understanding of the specific risks at each crossing and deploy appropriate warning and protection measures

At the time of writing, the last accidental fatality (excluding intentional deaths) was on February 8th, 2015. This is the longest time without an accidental fatality since the level crossing programme began in 2010.

Thus, the legacy of the deaths of Olivia and Charlotte in 2005 is that today Britain has the best level crossings safety record of any major railway in Europe, and probably the world.