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Level Crossing System 1
Level Crossing System  
Level Crossing System 2
Level Crossing System  
QUESTION: Dear Frank

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_crossing

Do you feel Automated Level / Railroad Crossings (i.e. Without Manual Intervention) of opening /closing gates have an edge over manual railroad systems in terms of prevention of pedestrian accidents,collisions of vehicles with trains i.e. safety measures ?.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: Manually operated gates over automated drop down barriers have a large edge on preventing crossing disasters.  Years ago British railways had gates that completely closed the whole width of the road way  on the approach of a train.  Gates were very heavily built and closed completely by trained railway signalmen.  Crossing accidents were very few.  Later, British Rail substituted  automated closing barriers, similar to American closing barriers and persons either went around the closing barrier,; or on occasion drove on the wrong side of the road where the barrier was a half barrier, closing just one lane.  American railroads have huge crossing deaths because of no barriers (just crossing signs) or because people drive cars around the barriers or lift them and go under. Sometimes they just drive through the barrier which are very flimsy.  It is terrible and the railroad is always blamed.  Britain should have kept the complete closing gates and not tried to save money by switching to automated barriers or worse half barriers.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Frank

Thank you.

Do you feel Automated Level / Railroad Crossings (i.e. Without Manual Intervention) of opening /closing gates have an edge over manual railroad systems in terms of prevention of pedestrian accidents,collisions of vehicles with trains i.e. safety measures ?.

Do you feel if "Level Crossing Ringtones" i.e. Warning audible alarm bells are generated before 10-15 minutes to a Smartphone / Cell Phone Automobile / Vehicle driver can help him / her to slow down the vehicle before reaching the Level / Railway Crossing". ?.

The Level Crossing Ringing tones will ring the alarm bells audible sound as "Level Crossing Ahead at this Specific Geographical Location".

i.e. Smartphone / Cellphone Application / program design for this functionality.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

Answer
Hi!  Again.  Most crossings are already protected with warning devices, bells, lights, gates etc. and I doubt if cell phone ring tones would add much additional protection against accidents.  Most accidents are due to the stupidity of the automobile driver "trying to beat the train" or driving around the closed crossing gates.  Some years ago we had two horrendous accidents in Virginia where an ambulance and at another time a small fire truck were both hit and demolished on a railroad crossing by large long 100+ car loaded freight trains with multiple locomotives.  All the volunteer, ambulance and fire truck  personnel were killed and the locomotives sustained little damage.  The emergency personnel had probably felt that as emergency vehicles they had the right of way over all other vehicles (including trains) and expected the train to stop.  A loaded freight train of 100+ large coal cars and two or more locomotives, travelling at 60+ mph, needs 1.25 miles to stop.  It obviously has the right of way over any other vehicle.  People see the train coming; hear the warning bells, misjudge the train's speed and "try to beat it over the crossing".  Crossings are generally higher on the tracks than on the road leading to the crossing.  In trying to beat the train vehicles stall at the very worst possible moment right in the path of the train. Very, Very rarely are people unaware of the existence of an oncoming train.  Even on unprotected crossings #farm track crossings# in the U.S. there are Stop , Listen and Look signposts and the trains always blare out a long warning, very loud, powerful sound on their powerful air horns before approaching and crossing such unprotected crossings, as they do all protected crossings.  In closing 99% of all crossing accidents #in the U.S. and Britain# are due to the stupidity of the road user, not because of the train.  Adding cell phone ring tones won't change the stupidity. Yet the railroad invariably gets the blame and law suit.  Very few accidents are not due to stupidity, like cars stalling on the tracks sometime before a train comes, or were traffic suddenly gets backed up across a crossing due to an accident or a traffic light being stuck.  This has happened fairly recently and attempts were made, unsuccessfully to clear, the tracks ahead of the train.  But in these cases cell phone warnings would not have been useful as people already knew that they needed to get the cars off the tracks.  I hope this answer helps.

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Frank Edgcombe

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I CAN NOT DIAGNOSE equipment problems or ESTIMATE DOLLAR VALUES of your equipment, by email. I have been active in model railroading for forty years. I can answer, or find answers, to questions on most aspects of model trains, railroad equipment or buildings. I have a good knowledge of prototype railroads. I have been employed by five model railroad equipment manufacturers/suppliers and worked for a prototype railroad. I have served, twice, as the president of a local model railroad club. I have been employed as a Reference Librarian, at a university, for the last fifteen years and am used to tracking down resources for patrons.

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