Tag Archives: obstacle detection

Broxbourne, UK: petition for full barriers, petition for half barriers

3 Nov

The death of two people on the Wharf Road automatic half-barrier level crossing in Wormley, Broxbourne, Hertfordshire earlier this year prompted a petition for the crossing to be upgraded to full-barriers. Now, another petition s circulating that calls for the half-barriers to be retained.

Those behind the petition to keep the half-barriers appear ill-informed as they are arguing that the full-barriers may be less safe. With the added protection of full-barriers and the practice of providing both obstacle detectors and CCTV, this is an illogical position.

Now is the time for Network Rail to address the ill-founded fears that a full-barrier crossing is less safe and tell the community of its plans for the Wharf Road level crossing.

Chiswick, UK: Network Rail ponders crossing closure

3 Nov

Network Rail is pondering elimination of the level crossing on Grove Park Terrace as a component of its plans to eliminate a further 500 level crossings in the 2014-2019 regulated control period. The planning is at a very early stage and no decision has been taken to definitely pursue closure. However, if it is to be closed to vehicular traffic, Network Rail has said that a replacement footbridge would be provided.

Even daring to think about elimination of this manually controlled CCTV equipped level crossing, has drawn fire from the local community concerned at the loss of a key route and extended journey times that they would face them. Network Rail has indicated that if the crossing is retained, it is probable that it would be upgraded by the addition of an obstacle detection system.

Elsenham: Will the level crossing become unstaffed?

30 Aug

The vehicular crossing at Elsenham is at present manually operated by crossing keepers who also operate the pedestrian crossing for those that cannot use the footbridge may be modernised and controlled remotely. This is sensitive as there have been three fatalities on the pedestrian component of this crossing, including teenagers Olivia Bazlinton and Charlie Thompson who were killed on December 3rd, 2005.

Since then Elsenham’s level crossing has remained in the public focus due to an exceedingly long and tortuous journey while the bereaved sought to expose all material facts. This culminated with the successful prosecution of Network Rail and the appointment of Tina Hughes, Olivia’s mother as Network Rail’s user champion.

Now, Network Rail is contemplating the best way forward for the Elsenham level crossing. One option is the conversion to a remotely controlled CCTV equipped level crossing with obstacle detection. In any event, the sensitivity surrounding Elsenham will ensure that whatever the solution, the safety case for change will be subject to detailed scrutiny by the bereaved.

Brandon, UK: Controversial level crossing’s failure snarls traffic for three hours

2 May

The Brandon manually controlled level crossing which is equipped with CCTV and obstacle detection reportedly failed before a lowering barrier struck a truck as it was crossing the railway. Witnesses have said that they saw the barrier lower and rise several times resulting in the level crossing being closed to road traffic for more than three hours whiles repairs and testing took place.

However, a Network Rail spokesperson is reported as having said vehicles often drive into barriers and that there were delays of 10-15 minutes on a couple of train services, adding: “Overall, it was not particularly disruptive in terms of train service and certainly from tea time things had been running from normal.” An interesting observation when significant disruption was caused to road users to whom no apology is reported. In particular it is of note that Network Rail appears to have done nothing to address the point made by witnesses that the barriers had malfunctioned.

Certainly the response to this incident as reported in regional media show Network Rail to have made a major public relations gaffe in not addressing the failure of the barrier system and in not reassuring uses of the crossing that it is indeed safe.

UK: RSSB publishes new rules for MCBs with obstacle detection

14 Apr

The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB), the GB rail industry’s independent rail safety body, has published new rules for the safe operation of manually controlled level crossings equipped with obstacle detection systems that take effect at the beginning of June 2014.

Two RSSB managed research projects that followed the accident at Ufton Nervet in November 2004 considered obstacle detection at level crossings and whether it had the potential to reduce risk. The circumstances at Ufton Nervet were that a man intent on taking his own life parked his car in the path of a train at an automatic half barrier level crossing. The train derailed in the ensuing collision with the motorist, the train driver and five passengers travelling on the train were killed.

Following the publication of this research, Network Rail developed a detailed design for a crossing with obstacle detection (MCB-OD) and carried out trials at Filey in Yorkshire.

New style crossings have now been introduced at a number of locations where full barrier (Closed Circuit TV monitored)or gated crossings (Crossing keeper controlled) existed.
In normal operations the crossing will close to road traffic automatically on the approach of trains with Radar and Lidar laser light technology ensuring that the crossing is clear before the protecting signal clears automatically.

To support the introduction of manually-controlled barriers with obstacle detection, the industry has now set new rules to support staff working at these locations.

Updates to the following Rule Book Modules and Forms will come into force in June 2014.
• GERT8000-TS9 Level crossings – signallers’ regulations, Module T3 Possession of a running line for engineering work, Module TS1 General signalling regulations and Module TW8 Level crossings – drivers’ instructions.
• Forms RT3180 Signallers Line Blockage, RT3181 IWA / COSS / PC Line Blockage, RT3191 Pilotman’s Single Line Working, RT3192 Signaller’s Single Line Working, RT3193 Driver’s Single Line Working Ticket, RT3198 Possession Arrangements and RT3199 Engineering Supervisor’s
Certificate.

For more details see Issue 26 of the Rule Book Briefing Leaflet which can be found at:http://www.rgsonline.co.uk/Rule_Book/Briefing%20Leaflet/GERT8000-RBBL%20Iss%2026.pdf

Brandon, United Kingdom: Crossing to be staffed until obstacle detection is sorted out

3 Oct

Following a recent visit to Brandon’s level crossing by the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLaughlin, he has written to Thetford MP Elizabeth Truss and West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock telling them he has raised their concerns with network Rail.

Network Rail is working to find a solution to the problems caused by the crossing’s LIDAR obstacle detection equipment falsely detecting obstructions, sometimes from mud thrown-up by passing traffic. However, at Brandon, in the interim, staff will be deployed at the crossing at peak times to intervene if the LIDAR malfunctions. These peak times will include those when road traffic is diverted off the A11 trunk route on a pre-planned basis.

Perhaps the right long-term solution is to get rid of the LIDAR overlay and rely instead on a radar based solution as proven and in wide-spread use in Germany.

Wem, United Kingdom: New crossing controls imminent

24 Sep

WEm level crossing showing proximity of road junctions. Source: GoogleEarth

WEm level crossing showing proximity of road junctions. Source: GoogleEarth

Network Rail is currently system testing the new level crossing equipment installed at the level crossing in Wem, Shropshire, which will allow it to be controlled remotely. At present the crossing is operated by the on-site signaller, but will in future be controlled from the signalling centre in Cardiff, more than 100 miles distant.

To allow the changed control arrangements to apply, Network Rail has installed CCTV cameras and also an obstacle detector. Normally, the level crossing will operate automatically with human intervention following the detection of an obstruction on the crossing. This will be via the CCTV camera system and then manually clearing the signal for the train to proceed over the level crossing if the level crossing is clear of any obstruction.

The same type of equipment has previously been installed on the route between Ely and Norwich. However, not all has been plain sailing as the equipment at Brandon has repeatedly detected smaller objects than intended with the result that the crossing has been closed to road traffic for extended periods. This crossing has both attracted the attention of two members of parliament and has been taken out of service pending modification. This has in turn been challenged by the Office of Rail Regulation serving an Improvement Notice.

in so far as the level crossing in Wem is concerned, there is the added dimension of a significant road junction in very close proximity on both sides of the level crossing (see image). These junctions contribute to the level crossing experiencing road traffic blocking back over the railway as vehicles wait to turn right immediately after the level crossing. The number of motorists who enter the level crossing before their exit from the crossing is clear is significant. This highlights the need for education and enforcement action to drive home the message that entering the crossing before there is a clear exit for your vehicle constitutes misuse.