Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby Suburban Station » Thu May 19, 2016 8:22 pm

Ptc wasn't passed in response to 188 and many people have lifelong injuries including paralyzation. They didn't endanger themselves or others recklessly by trying to beat the train or ignoring warnings. I'm a huge proponent of improved grade crossing safety but I don't like the way you wrote off those who suffered in 188. Some progress has been made but more is in order but I'm not sure a second 15 bn unfunded mandate can be paid for by railroads
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby GirlOnTheTrain » Thu May 19, 2016 8:32 pm

Pretty sure his point was that all the politicians scream about PTC after severe and relatively rare occurrences such as 188, but still do next to nothing about grade crossing incidents which kill far more people on an annual basis...I don't think anyone was writing off the severity of what happened to the victims of 188.
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby atsf sp » Thu May 19, 2016 8:46 pm

I only asked if you were on the head end cause that is one of the most traumatic experiences or possibilities of the job. Thank God I have never killed anyone but I know plenty of good engineers and conductors who have. It lives with you forever. I have hit cars and had plenty of near misses as a freight conductor. You would be amazed how many people jump the crossings cause they don't want to wait 3 minutes. Every run this is experienced and you can only hope today isn't the day. In my experience so far, most people who's car has been hit and survive (all my experience the car got stuck on the track and they were to the side) were drunk and were arrested. There needs to be more done to wisen up the public. Its not only their lives that would end or be ruined but the lives of the train crew and all the victims families. All this being said, the event you observed is horrible. My prayers go out to all involved.
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby Dick H » Thu May 19, 2016 9:23 pm

The few crossings on the Acela route, I think they are all in CT, ran up against to a number of
wealthy, politically involved families who did not want any overpass to block their view of
Long Island Sound.
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby matthewsaggie » Fri May 20, 2016 4:34 pm

It was easy for Congress to get on the PTC bandwagon because they could stick the carriers for the cost. Sort of "Not my money, so I am for it". Great for press releases and photo ops.

Real crossing improvements would require them to come up with the money, which they won't do. While there is some funding each year for improvements, there usually only enough federal funding for about 12-15 crossings per state per year. Some states are able to supplement for a few more each year, but there is never enough.
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby num1hendrickfan » Fri May 20, 2016 8:35 pm

Ryand-Smith wrote:Honestly this is one of the few things that does bother me. In my area we had a truck (yes they tried to bypass gates, but still), the fact that there are still gates on the Acella is something shameful. Gates should only exist for slow speed rare lines and rural crossings the fact that we still have grade crossings die major incidents is shameful.
That's all well and good, but there's nowhere to build a bridge or tunnel to cross the tracks in New London, CT where the Orient Point-New London ferry service operates. The lack of a grade crossing would make it impossible to run this popular and vital service to the region. Which also explains why there are still gates on the Northeast Corridor, because there are areas that existed prior that also must be catered too and unfortunately that means keeping the gates or completely rerouting the railroad and tearing up a beautiful coastal city. Coincidentally all of these crossings are in Connecticut.
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Fri May 20, 2016 10:18 pm

Dick H wrote:The few crossings on the Acela route, I think they are all in CT, ran up against to a number of
wealthy, politically involved families who did not want any overpass to block their view of
Long Island Sound.


Actually, in Stonington it was also a wedge to prevent Amtrak from increasing the train schedules. The sad thing is Waterford and Groton both want their sole crossings eliminated quite badly and CDOT has totally washed its hands of even trying because the experience 2 decades ago was so caustic.
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby AgentSkelly » Sat May 21, 2016 3:22 am

Something I remember from I think when SNCF developed the TGV was that France on its existing rail network had a lot of at-grade crossings and even worse, lots of private ones thru farms and what not. Apparently, if they were going to existing rail systems, it was suggested on crossings that you cannot eliminate, you put all road traffic thru a chicane of some sort.
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby Nasadowsk » Sat May 21, 2016 6:14 pm

I'm not aware of any restrictions or special engineering on conventional rail lines for the TGV. Obviously, the LGVs have no grade crossings. AFAIK, the TGV is cleared to run on any 1.5kv or 25kv line in France. The ICE is that way too, the Berlin to Munich run goes through some curves that make the New Haven line look arrow-straight. At speeds that are...interesting.

There used to be a semi-regular (seasonal?) TGV service where they pulled the thing the last few miles with an old diesel. I think they wired the line up in recent years.
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby n2cbo » Sat May 21, 2016 7:07 pm

Tadman wrote:There's been a lot of chatter about the 188 incident recently. I, too, mourn the loss of 8 people and the uncertainty caused by this accident. But let me tell a far more troubling story.

Tonight I'm on 58 NOL-CHI. We just hit a truck. It was an unbelievably quick incident. All at once, a tire flew past my window, a giant cloud of dirt kicked up, and we went into emergency. Three people are dead, two children. This is the most messed up thing I've seen in a long time. A woman, perhaps the widow, is crying her eyes out on the side of the road.

But you won't see Chuck Schumer or any other a-holes like him banging their metaphorical shoe on the lectern about grade crossing safety. Nobody will shed a tear for those kids outside rural Mississippi. There certainly won't be a $15b PTC mandate, let alone new laws trying to curb this frequent tragedy. 244 people died in 2015. That's about 2 188-style incidents per month.

Why don't they do something about this? Tickets for crossing violations are rarely written and not a serious offense, but you'r risking others' lives just like drunk driving. If the politicians really cared, they'd solve this problem tomorrow.


I actually witnessed a South Amboy, NJ police car violating the gates which caused an eastbound North Jersey Coast Line train leaving South Amboy Station (The old one with low level platforms) have to dump the air. So if the police themselves don't obey the gates, how do we expect regular citizens to do so. I think the answer is give mandatory jail time for anyone (including police officers) violating a grade crossing signal. Maybe people might think twice before doing it again. Not only do they endanger the lives of the passengers in the car (and on the train as well, if the vehicle is large enough) , they also traumatize the train crew. Sometimes for life...
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby AgentSkelly » Sun May 22, 2016 4:18 am

Nasadowsk wrote:I'm not aware of any restrictions or special engineering on conventional rail lines for the TGV. Obviously, the LGVs have no grade crossings. AFAIK, the TGV is cleared to run on any 1.5kv or 25kv line in France. The ICE is that way too, the Berlin to Munich run goes through some curves that make the New Haven line look arrow-straight. At speeds that are...interesting.

There used to be a semi-regular (seasonal?) TGV service where they pulled the thing the last few miles with an old diesel. I think they wired the line up in recent years.


I forgot to add, in the end they decided to build infrastructure to eliminate all at-grade crossings as the cost/benefit ratio was in favor.
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby east point » Sun May 22, 2016 10:15 am

There needs to be grade crossing elimination / upgrading done on a formula basis. Look at NC which is eliminating grade crossing and upgrading others on a regular basis.

There should be a system where every grade crossings gets so many points for each of:
Number of passenger trains and time of day + speed or more importantly potential speed in future
closeness to passenger train stations
Same for freight trains
Number of autos and times compared to trains
Number of convential tractor trailers
number of haz mat trailers
pedestrian traffic
visibility from vehicles
weather impairments
Accidents at location
near misses
type of traffic and especially for crossing that drivers might not comprehend dangers. ( ex farm workers in CA )
close ness to other crossing may allow two or more to combine points for a single overpass or maybe raise RR tracks. My location can raise tracks and eliminate all 3 crossings.

So the more points the higher priority to fix. Finance from an additional gas tax know that is a hot button. But so much money has to be spent every year
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby ExCon90 » Sun May 22, 2016 2:39 pm

The FRA had a formula for exactly that as far back as 1990. Feed in the data for each crossing, press a key, and get a priority ranking according to those criteria; it had to be done, and was done, for the entire Long Island Rail Road in connection with proposed grade-crossing elimination on the Main Line between Queens Village and Hicksville. It's now 2016, and we see how far that got. The problem is money and NIMBYs. (Actually, the whole railroad had to be studied to make sure the local priorities were not misplaced. The result showed that--surprise, surprise--the crossings most in need of elimination on the entire railroad were those between Queens Village and Hicksville.)
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby Tadman » Mon May 23, 2016 12:46 pm

naugatroll wrote:Pretty sure his point was that all the politicians scream about PTC after severe and relatively rare occurrences such as 188, but still do next to nothing about grade crossing incidents which kill far more people on an annual basis...I don't think anyone was writing off the severity of what happened to the victims of 188.


Exactly. I don't care to minimize the loss in the 188 incident, but the politicians make such a big stink out of this when it's less than 1/20th of all railroad fatalities in the US this year. You hear nothing about the grade crossing incidents (including the two little girls in my 58 incident) victims, nothing about any railroaders killed in job-related injuries...

I would also posit that a $15b unfunded mandate on the carriers for better grade crossing safety, although totally unfair, would have far better ROI in terms of lives and dollars than PTC. Probably something like 10x or 100x. But Chuckie Schumer and Dirty Dick Durbin wouldn't have any grieving widows to take their picture with.
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Re: Grade Crossings - the real tragedy in railroading

Postby Ryand-Smith » Mon May 23, 2016 2:28 pm

It's not like grade crossings don't lead to deaths and derailments, I mean when it becomes an almost weekly that an NS train hits a truck or car in Virginia it is a problem.
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