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The picture of people walking across the tracks really triggers my Yikes-response. You do not do that! No walking on the tracks!

Guess I have internalised all the "walking on the tracks puts you in mortal danger" signs.

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by A swedish kind of death on Sat May 31st, 2014 at 02:36:32 PM EST
You can go overboard on that. Here in the UK we don't have any crossing of the tracks at stations, but there are pedestrian level crossings where footpaths cross the track.

Sadly, due to a few recent incidents where people obviously don't understand the warning to "Stop, look, listen, cross quickly" Network Rail have begun to take a zero tolerance attitude and these footpaths are being taken out of use. In some cases tunnels or bridges are being substituted at truly ludicrous expense.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 02:19:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
due to a few recent incidents where people obviously don't understand the warning to "Stop, look, listen, cross quickly"

This was my take, too, but since then, I read more about that accident, and it was less clear-cut:

Proactive not reactive | International Railway Journal

The accident occurred after the girls opened the manual gate and walked onto the tracks while the crossing sirens were still sounding. They thought the siren was for the Cambridge-bound train that they wanted to catch, and had already passed the crossing. It was at this point that they were hit by a second passing train that was travelling through the station from Birmingham to Stansted Airport. They were killed instantly.

A scathing analysis presented to the court by safety specialist Dr Tony Cox of the final risk assessment of the level crossing conducted eight months before the accident found that the assessment neglected to show that the level crossing in question had extremely short visual sighting times. The low-frequency of off-peak services also created an incentive to catch immediately departing trains, while the positioning of ticketing facilities on only one platform at the station meant that passengers often had to use the crossing more than once.

Cox estimated that there was a "near miss" at the crossing at least once a week, adding that the failure to warn passengers of the passage of a second train was a very significant factor in the two girls' deaths and a huge failure of the level crossing system in place.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 05:16:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding the Ingatestone underpass: Ł4 million for a footpath underpass, huh!? Seeing that the article was a year old, I had to check what came of it. It's now open:

NetworkRail_New - News Releases - Local MP visits new Ingatestone underpass

Brentwood MP Eric Pickles was in Ingatestone on Friday 25 March to see the newly completed underpass, which allowed Network Rail to permanently close Ingatestone Hall footpath level crossing.

The crossing was identified in 2011 as having inadequate sighting when trains approached. Working closely with Essex County Council, the decision was taken to close the public crossing immediately that same year and pedestrians used an alternative route crossing the railway.

Different ways to make the crossing safer were investigated such as clearing overgrown hedgerow, lowering train speeds and diverting the footpath to a nearby under bridge.

...Work began soon after to build the £4.5m underpass underneath the railway tracks using a `box and jack' method sliding the underpass under the railway while trains were still running over the top to avoid disrupting services.

So £4.5m in the end even. <shakes head> Without knowing the specifics, this sounds like the super-inflated costs known from the USA.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 05:28:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about the crossing where the girls were killed, but the Ingatestone crossing had clear sight lines of at least a kilometre in each direction. It was a gentle bend on an embankment which did not have significant vegetation.

when it was closed it was clear that nobody ever really understood what the problem was, cos the issue of sight lines was the least likely.

When I shot the pictures of the steam engine Oliver Cromwell a few years back, that was taken at a crossing about 4 miles further on which has far worse sightlines from the west side, yet afaik it's still open


keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 03:04:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the Ingatestone crossing had clear sight lines of at least a kilometre in each direction

Hm. I checked and the crossing in question is here. There is a gentle S curve to the south-west, so I estimate a line of sight on (left-driving) trains from London of 600 m from the north-west side of the tracks, or 15 seconds at the line speed of 90 mph. To the north-east, there is another curve and I estimate a line of sight of 400 m from the south-east side of the tracks, that's 10 seconds. I also found this FoI request, and photos of the crossing are included on pages 26-30 of "Area Docs Part 2.pdf".

As for what exactly Network Rail sees as a problem, although I blame the Brentwood Gazette journalists for being lazy in reporting their communication in full, it is confusing. In its first longer letter (pages 12-13 in "Area Docs Part 2.pdf"), they refer to high train frequency, and "sighting" that is 27% of the required in one direction and 79% in the other, and say neither whistles (residential area) nor mini traffic lights (station area, more than two tracks) are a possible mitigation and trains would have to be slowed to 25 mph. In a letter on page 8 of "Area Docs Part 1.pdf", however, Network Rail says that one of the three tracks is a siding used by freight trains, which on occasion blocked the footpath, and pedestrians have been walking around the freight trains, thus extending the time they spent in the danger area. (The use of the track by long freight trains is vehemently denied by a protesting local.) However, in another letter on page 36 of "Area Docs Part 2.pdf", Network Rail says that the problem they see is the curvature of the line alone and not foliage or misuse of the crossing. It appears however that three tracks (as opposed to two or one) are a problem.

Even if Network Rail is right, they didn't explain themselves properly on the outset even to the local council (much less the locals) and when the local council denied their initial request for closure, they went one level higher to get it.

The fact that Network Rail waited two years (and further protests) until the actual decision to build the tunnel is also a scandal, though at least it contradicts the hypothesis that the whole affair was a corrupt deal to give an over-priced contract for unnecessary infrastructure to a contractor.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 05:21:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I can see the siding causing problems, tbh I'd forgotten about it. As far as I can tell it's mainly used as a passing loop to hold northbound freight trains during peak periods, but I've seen long ballast trains parked there for a couple of days in anticipation of permanent way work. So it could be an issue.

As for the sightlines on expresses, hmm the absence of any reported incident on the crossing suggests it isn't anything like the problem Network Rail want to portray it as. But I think NR were probably over-reacting to the Enfield incident and got caught out closing a popular crossing without any plan to replace it. So all the justifications were done after the fact to cover their backsides.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 09:50:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Denmark we have quite a lot of level foot crossings on the small local stops serving single-track rail lines.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 03:21:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In France too.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 03:22:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We have that too, but then you cross at the designated crossing, not just walk around liek they do in those pictures. The designated crossing is Safe as long as you follow the rules, otherwise tracks are Dangerous.

Effective indoctrination should start early, be repeated often and divide the world in clear cut categories.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 03:47:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I forgot to note that the bans on crossing the tracks which became ubiquitous long ago where you live are of course gradually being introduced here along with station reconstructions, with exceptions in line with the "designated crossing is Safe as long as you follow the rules" maxim. For example, on the only line in Hungary where trains currently reach 160 km/h, all stations and stops have either footbridges or underpasses, but most of those weren't built to be accessible for disabled people. So station masters regularly open gates for the elderly (and not just them) after the train left.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Jun 6th, 2014 at 03:32:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This reminds me of a stereotype-contradicting observation I made: in Italy, I have never seen people violate the don't-cross-the-tracks signs, but I saw such violations several times in Austria and Switzerland.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jun 1st, 2014 at 05:19:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like you've never been to Calabria.....
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 08:34:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well true, I submit I was only in Sicily and in Northern Italy (north of Siena) and not for a lot of time even combined.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jun 2nd, 2014 at 09:36:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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