Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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Re: Heavy Rail grade crossings - catenary?

Postby electricron » Thu Aug 18, 2016 10:32 pm

bdawe wrote:I was also under the impression that the FTA wasn't a regulatory agency, rather a funding agency like the FHA, and while they might whithhold support form operations they do not approve of, they don't regulate directly like the FRA


FTA is mostly a funding agency in support of public transit. But it also regulates mass transit systems the FRA doesn't. This link provides a better explanation than I will ever be able to give:
http://utu.org/worksite/PDFs/safetylaws ... ations.pdf
One type of short-haul passenger service requires special treatment under the safety statutes: “rapid transit operations in an urban area.” Only these operations are excluded from FRA’s jurisdiction, and only if they are “not connected to the general railroad system.”
FTA’s rules on rail fixed guideway systems (49 CFR part 659) apply to any rapid transit systems or portions thereof not subject to FRA’s rules.


I would like to add that the FRA is the agency that determines whether their regulations or FTA regulations are enforced on any rail mass transit system.
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Re: Heavy Rail grade crossings - catenary?

Postby Nasadowsk » Fri Aug 19, 2016 7:20 pm

electricron wrote:Also, on ac systems you see gaps because one can't guarantee synchronization of the different voltage supplies


IIRC, the US east of the Rockies outside of Texas is basically in phase.

The whole phase balance 'issue' is just railfan folklore. The British and French determined it was no issue back in the 50's.
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Re: Heavy Rail grade crossings - catenary?

Postby mtuandrew » Sat Aug 20, 2016 12:00 am

Except for Amtrak's legacy 25Hz system anyway, which is an entirely different problem than unsynchronized waveforms.

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Moderator's Note: I appreciate the talk of electrifications, but MattW has made it clear that he's talking systems regulated by the FTA under 49 CFR Part 659 - thanks for the reference, Ron. Let's leave FRA-regulated systems (excluding transit-style, like PATH) for another topic, and concentrate on grade crossings for heavy transit and legacy "middleweight" transit systems like the Norristown High-Speed Line.
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby deathtopumpkins » Mon Aug 22, 2016 8:17 am

Not sure how relevant it is, but I just wanted to point out that most heavy rail transit systems in the US do have private grade crossings, usually within maintenance yards and shops. Some are fully protected with gates and lights (e.g. MBTA Orange Line at Wellington shops), and some are not protected at all (e.g. MBTA Red Line at Cabot shops). At least one is actually across the 'main line' rather than just yard tracks (Baltimore Metro at Old Court station).

I wonder what the FTA thinks of these, if anything? What kind of regulation are they covered by, and could that extend to public crossings?
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby litz » Mon Aug 22, 2016 2:10 pm

There are at-grade crossings on MARTA north of the Lindbergh MARTA station.

They are on the transit agency's own property and blocked with locked/chained fenced gates.

I would have to guess that permission to unlock and open those gates requires heaps and heaps of paperwork.
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 2:51 pm

Since the crossings referred to by dtp are entirely on the property of the transit agency and may be legally used only by employees, and others with the permission of the agency, would they be subject to FTA jurisdiction? Maybe OSHA should put a spoon in the soup?
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:46 pm

ExCon90 wrote:Since the crossings referred to by dtp are entirely on the property of the transit agency and may be legally used only by employees, and others with the permission of the agency, would they be subject to FTA jurisdiction? Maybe OSHA should put a spoon in the soup?

NO SOUP FOR YOU. :P

WMATA has similar private crossings at Van Dorn and West Falls Church yards, and probably all the rest. Most likely, so do all rail rapid transit systems around the world.
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby ExCon90 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 4:31 pm

:wink: I guess I failed to make my point clearly. No doubt there are such crossings on every transit operation in the country--there have to be--and as far as I know they're only subject to regulation by the operation itself and have no need for regulation by outside agencies. I wouldn't want soup that was stirred by too many people.
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby Ryand-Smith » Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:14 pm

For the record I was confused because I know LIRR has grade crossings of third rail (Mineola is one off the top of my head, but the trains are long enough that the cars never 'run out of third rail," the third rail goes away for crossings.
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby sammy2009 » Thu Aug 25, 2016 7:35 pm

From some of the readings and posts i've been reading on another site about the MARTA new RFI , alot of people seemed to be in the mindset to try and operate the heavy rail line like a commuter rail and style. As i was reading alot of posts , i was just wondering is it possible to let heavy rail cross at roads coming every five-ten mins on roads. Commuter rail is much different with trains running every half hour or so. Wouldn't such a thing affect traffic flow on the streets of the crossing with such frequent trains. ?
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby electricron » Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:51 pm

Light rail trains cross intersections that often all the time, with or without gates. So blocking traffic and causing gridlock isn't the answer. Although gridlock might be part of the answer. Heavy rail usually have more riders than commuter or light rail systems, and it's the potential of street traffic blocking or slowing the train is why there's few if any at grade intersections, imho.
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby ExCon90 » Fri Aug 26, 2016 1:51 pm

I think a major concern of both agencies is the likelihood of (entirely preventable) accidents with highway vehicles. As long as there are cars and trains there will be motorists who try to beat the train, and nothing gets through to some of them.
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby MattW » Fri Aug 26, 2016 7:01 pm

So I guess there's no real firm answer in here. It kind of sounds like it may be dependent on the specific project if the FTA would approve it. I appreciate the input everyone, but please, don't think I'm "closing" this topic, if anyone else has another view, I'd love to hear it!
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby dowlingm » Sat Aug 27, 2016 12:02 pm

ExCon90 wrote:I think a major concern of both agencies is the likelihood of (entirely preventable) accidents with highway vehicles. As long as there are cars and trains there will be motorists who try to beat the train, and nothing gets through to some of them.
and yet nobody says "we MUST have Positive Car Control, by Congressional mandate!"
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Re: Heavy Rail Transit grade crossings

Postby ExCon90 » Sat Aug 27, 2016 1:32 pm

... despite the fact that most grade-crossing accidents would have been prevented had PCC been in place!
(Which leads me to wonder: will the experimental automatic controls now being tested detect lowered crossing gates and flashing lights?)
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