Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

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Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby Myrtone » Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:34 am

In my city, we have a program to remove 50 level crossings, probably more if you count at-grade pedestrian crossings. So I thought I would start a thread on removal of level crossings in the U.S and Canada. This concerns level crossings both with roads footpaths, and any other public thoroughfares, note that railways are private property and thus don't count themselves.
Some general notes on level crossing removal:
Closure of a level crossing on a railway, together with closure of the line itself, does not count. But closure of a road or footpath crossing a railway does count if the stretches of road or footpath to each side remained or still remain with dead-ends at the railway. This is one simple type of crossing removal.
Then there are six types of grade separation:
*Road over
*Road under
*Rail over
*Rail under
*Two combinations of raising one and lowering the other.

Level crossings limit train frequencies over them. While trains may have priority, this doesn't mean that advantage may be taken of this priority rule to cut off road traffic, including pedestrians. There also needs to be a limit to the scheduled train frequency so that the road isn't continuously blocked. If a level crossing is closed for nearly as much time as it's open to road traffic, then rail traffic justifies grade separation. Such rail traffic is impossible on single track sections, but can often be achieved on double track.
Let's start with the most recent level crossing removals, that is level crossings removed since 2010, and level crossing projected to or currently being removed. In the case of grade separations, indicate the type of level grade separation. You might also want to include the reasoning behind the type of grade separation with each example.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby TrainDetainer » Fri Mar 31, 2017 12:49 am

Good luck on something like this. I might get surprised, but I doubt you'll get much interest. Even the DOT sometimes seems to have a hard time pushing information on crossing issues. However, as info it would help to clarify a couple of things. First, in the US they're called at-grade crossings, not level crossings, whether the crossing is with a highway, pedestrian pathway or another RR. IDK what the official term is in the Great White North. Second, there is no limit to the number of trains that can use a crossing, except of course if it's a rail/rail crossing. Third, at highway/rail crossings trains always (with very limited exceptions) have the right of way, even if the crossing itself is legally owned by the highway authority. Reasons for closing/separating at-grade crossings over here are usually 1) political, 2) train/highway volume/interference, 3) high-speed train operation.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby Myrtone » Fri Mar 31, 2017 2:42 am

I know the term grade crossing, but apparently, it can also mean a crossing of two railways on the same level. I use the term level crossing because it specifically means a crossing of a road and a railway on the same level, not between a crossing of two railways on the same level.
I did note that trains nearly always have priority at an at-grade road crossing, but I noted that it doesn't mean that advantage may be taken of this priority rule to cut off road traffic (including pedestrians). I imagine there would be a standing order against stopping on such a crossing.
There must be a limit to the frequency of scheduled trains over the crossing so that the road or footpath isn't blocked. If the normal train frequency is enough for the crossing to be closed to road traffic (including pedestrians) for nearly as much time as it is open, then grade separation would be justified. What I mean is that there must be some rule as to the maximum number of trains per hour over an at-grade crossing of any kind so that other traffic using the crossing isn't blocked.
Has anyone heard of cases of road authorities not allowing more scheduled services per hour until all at-grade road crossings are removed? The normal minimum headway between trains over such a crossing must be greater than the interval between activation of the crossing and the arrival of the fastest train, even at the busiest hours of the day. It is true that this may be masked by other factors limiting train frequency such as flat junctions, but that doesn't change the fact that the normal minimum headway between trains over a crossing must be greater than the threshold mentioned above. Put it another way, the impact to road traffic, including pedestrians, must be considered in the train timetable unless the line is fully grade separated for all public thoroughfares.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby deathtopumpkins » Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:12 am

Myrtone wrote:Has anyone heard of cases of road authorities not allowing more scheduled services per hour until all at-grade road crossings are removed? The normal minimum headway between trains over such a crossing must be greater than the interval between activation of the crossing and the arrival of the fastest train, even at the busiest hours of the day. It is true that this may be masked by other factors limiting train frequency such as flat junctions, but that doesn't change the fact that the normal minimum headway between trains over a crossing must be greater than the threshold mentioned above. Put it another way, the impact to road traffic, including pedestrians, must be considered in the train timetable unless the line is fully grade separated for all public thoroughfares.


No, and I doubt it's ever successfully happened, given that in the US railroads are preempted under federal law. States, counties, and cities and their equivalent have no jurisdiction to regulate rail traffic, and any attempt has invariably ended in the railroad's favor.

Some railroads do have rules against blocking crossings for more than X minutes at a time except in case of emergency, but I highly doubt that would actually be legally enforceable, and is most likely just an effort at goodwill from the railroad.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby Myrtone » Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:02 pm

What the highest regular train frequency over a road crossing as far as anyone here knowns?
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby ExCon90 » Sat Apr 01, 2017 2:04 pm

I don't have the numbers, but the Long Island between Mineola and Hicksville (mostly emu with some diesel-hauled) would almost have to be a record: it's so congested that peak-hour traffic has to use both tracks in the same direction for well over an hour morning and evening, preventing any moves against the peak direction during those times; I'd guess that there must be over 20 trains an hour. Ironically, there's been a plan for at least 27 years to elevate the railroad over that stretch, but NIMBY opposition has stalled it so far. (You can follow it in the Long Island Rail Road forum--it's a continuing saga.)
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby Myrtone » Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:51 am

Does this line have grade crossings with public thoroughfares? If the roads and footpaths crossing there are closed for even nearly as long they are open, then grade separation is justified. One should ask the opponents whether they would rather not have the viaduct and wait for the trains at the crossing, or have the viaduct and not wait for the trains.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby MACTRAXX » Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:20 pm

EC90 and Myrtone:

I will vouch for the roughly 10 mile track segment between Floral Park and Hicksville on the LIRR
Main Line. I inquired and found that there is a "window" in the AM Peak weekday rush hour when
both tracks are used westbound of about one hour and ten minutes - 15 trains use the "opposite"
track during this period. The PM Peak eastbound "window" is about 40 minutes with only about 6
trains using the "opposite" track and is more subject to flexibility depending on how other trains
are operating primarily before and after the beginning of this time period.

The LIRR Main Line Third Track Project would eliminate the remaining grade crossings as part of
this expansion going forward. Look for this title atop the LIRR Forum for more posts on this topic.

http://www.amodernLI.com
http://www.righttrackforlongisland.com

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EXPRESS TRAIN TO NEW YORK PENN STATION-NO JAMAICA ON THIS TRAIN-PLEASE STAND CLEAR OF THE CLOSING TRAIN DOORS
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:45 pm

Myrtone wrote:Does this line have grade crossings with public thoroughfares? If the roads and footpaths crossing there are closed for even nearly as long they are open, then grade separation is justified.

Try telling that to the NIMBYs.
One should ask the opponents whether they would rather not have the viaduct and wait for the trains at the crossing, or have the viaduct and not wait for the trains.

The problem is that it's no use asking people who don't listen.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby Myrtone » Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:38 am

MACTRAXX wrote:I will vouch for the roughly 10 mile track segment between Floral Park and Hicksville on the LIRR
Main Line. I inquired and found that there is a "window" in the AM Peak weekday rush hour when
both tracks are used westbound of about one hour and ten minutes - 15 trains use the "opposite"
track during this period. The PM Peak eastbound "window" is about 40 minutes with only about 6
trains using the "opposite" track and is more subject to flexibility depending on how other trains
are operating primarily before and after the beginning of this time period.

If both lines run westbound in A.M peak, one might wonder how they store trains between peak periods. Apparently a third track is to be added according to some videos I've seen on the project. Trains would still need to be stored somewhere between the peak periods.

The LIRR Main Line Third Track Project would eliminate the remaining grade crossings as part of
this expansion going forward. Look for this title atop the LIRR Forum for more posts on this topic.[/quote]
Another thing not mentioned is that gaps in the third rail over level crossings, with them removed, the live rail will also no longer have gaps except at points, theses gaps being much shorter. Of course, these grade crossings are a relic of the days of steam.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby Backshophoss » Sun Apr 09, 2017 5:43 pm

You asked about midday equipment layups,LIRR has a yard just west of Penn station,which is some what limited due to
"Tunnel Box" construction,a yard in Long Island City,used more for diesel powered coach sets,with limited yard tracks for the M-7 EMU's.
There are yard tracks at Jamaica and Hillside( the main shop for M-3/M-7 EMU fleets) that are used as midday layup points.
LIRR does a lot of Deadheading of empty train sets to/from Jamaica and Hillside yards.

IF and when the trackage to GCT is online,the former freight yard at Sunnyside(aka yard "A")will be used for midday storage.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby Myrtone » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:44 pm

If too many trains run over a level crossing on a double track section too frequently, the road or footpath is continuously blocked. Such frequencies are not possible on a single track section. There must surely be some rule to ensure that scheduled train frequencies don't reach this level over level crossings.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby bellstbarn » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:37 pm

My main point will follow this comment about the Long Island Rail Road. I live near Wantagh and Seaford, where the grade crossings of busy streets were eliminated fifty years ago. However, it must be said that the entire work of grade crossing elimination took many decades. The first ones were done where the communities WANTED the elimination because the gates caused traffic problems. (Some may say that the first crossing elimination projects on Long Island were where NY State highways intersected the railroad.) The NIMBY nonsense in New Hyde Park is irrational. If a train slams into an oil tanker or sludge carrier at New Hyde Park Road, it will be a catastrophe of major size.
---
That said, in the U.S. I am under the impression that most problems with grade crossings involve the passage of long freight trains, sometimes at slow speeds. Or, such as Kingston, NY, when the crew is accused of blocking the streets while they both went for a doughnut and coffee. The LIRR trains generally speed through the New Hyde Park crossings. Even if a train makes a station stop, the time lost to the motorist is minimal compared to what freight trains do in the rest of the nation.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:19 pm

Very true, and possibly occurring mainly in North America, where freight trains all over the US are often well over a mile in length, making the number of train movements less important than their length and speed. To add to the problem, many towns don't seem to get it that imposing a low speed limit through the town (which localities are able to do in some instances) simply results in the crossings being blocked for longer periods. This in turn induces motorists to try to beat a train to the crossing, knowing that the gates are going to be down for quite a while--a perfect setup for the type of tanker collision mentioned by bellstbarn above. As to Myrtone's question above, there is no hard-and-fast rule here about the number and duration of movements permitted over a crossing; if there is a chronic problem at a particular crossing the municipal authorities generally try to work with the railroad to see whether the situation can be alleviated.
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Re: Grade crossing removal thread (public thourougfares)

Postby Myrtone » Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:39 am

There may be no hard-and-fast rule but I bet that a train frequency even nearly high enough to justify more than two tracks will also justify grade separation. It seems that a lot of money that could have been spent on grade crossing removals was instead spent on freeways.

Does this seem reasonable? If a freeway is built that crosses an existing railway, any nearby at-grade road crossings should either be closed or grade separated.

I wonder how much money and resources spent on freeways and other road projects over the decades might have been better spent on grade crossing removals.

Does anyone have photos or footage showing recent at-grade road or footpath crossing removals? The is photos or footage from before and after each removal.
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