• West Medford (and grade crossing) perceived inefficiencies

  • Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.
Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

Moderators: sery2831, CRail

  by CRail
Chelsea is indeed but that is temporary. It also hasn’t been like that for very long.
ExCon90 wrote:The "This is why" link is not what I described.
Right, because what you described is not the reason for the rule. If people can cross tracks at a station while a train is stopped, another train cannot move into or out of the station until the first one clears (the topic of this thread is West Medford, where the exact circumstance could take place!). This includes but is not limited to stations which board from the same side on both tracks. Prides Crossing, Shirley, and sometimes Ayer are also stops where this happens.
  by petahgriff8316
Took a walk down to the crossing late last night, as I was up and wanted to see if there would be a crossing guard present at High St late at night. Though it normally departs North Station at 10:30 p.m., Amtrak 688 was scheduled to leave North Station at 11:25 p.m., which is the normal time for nights when the Red Sox/etc. have home games. As such, I figured it would be interesting to see if the guard would be present for not just a late-night train, but a later-than-usual train.

Sure enough, the guard's car was parked there when I got to the crossing around 11:30. When the (electronic) bells started clanging, he came running out of the woods by the track. I don't know if he was using "the facilities" or having a smoke break, but I found it pretty humorous. He did his schtick, and I figured he would be going home. Turns out he stayed for the last two (one inbound, one outbound) Lowell line trains, the latter of which came through around 12:25 a.m. Obviously he was just doing his job, and I very much get having that crossing staffed during peak hours, and I agree that the intersection is a mess, but I did find it a bit unnecessary to have a guard there during (very much) off peak hours when there was virtually no automobile traffic.
  by atlantis
I am dating myself when I say that I remember the crossing guard lowering the gates with a hand crank! :wink:
  by newpylong
To add further information - when I worked for Guilford, we were required to have the latest Commuter Rail schedules on us if we were operating in passenger territory. We were not allowed to occupy ANY station simultaneously as a passenger train. The dispatcher would help us if they were off schedule substantially.
  by Disney Guy
Not sure whether West Medford and other locations have it but at Roberts/Brandeis station the crossing street (South St) widens to 4 lanes at the railroad crossing and narrows back down to 2 lanes. Perhaps the crossing street in West Medford is wide enough to do a similar two abreast queueing of cars at the rairoad crossing even if the lanes have to merge back into one after the crossing.

There are numerous (vehicular) signalized intersections where a road has an added lane approaching the intersection and the added lane is dropped not far after the intersection. So there must be some added efficiency compared with not adding and then dropping a lane.
  by petahgriff8316
It is 2 lanes, but there isn't much room for expansion on either side — buildings right up to the road, and then two intersections.

I was down for a midnight walk very early Sunday AM. Around 1:25 am, saw the gates start going down — it was one of the MBTA trains positioning out to Lowell. Crossing guard's car was parked at the shanty, although I do not recall whether he (or she) came out of the shed when the train passed through. Regardless, I found it odd they'd have a guard on duty at well after one in the morning for a positioning movement, although I guess if they're going to have them there for trains that go through after midnight (as observed last week) they'd do so for the midnight positioning movements.

Also, I do wonder why/how the circuits are seemingly different on Canal St. vs. High St. I've stood at the Canal St. crossing, located south of High St., a couple of times waiting to see a northbound train go through (Canal St. is one of the few places where the mechanical bells haven't been replaced by E-Bells, so I enjoy watching trains go through that intersection for that reason). Regardless, I notice (by hearing the bells) that the High St. crossing gets tripped before Canal, which seems counter-intuitive given the latter is further south, and thus closer to where the train is coming from. I am guessing the circuit for High St. is larger than Canal? If so, why?
  by ceo
Did the High St gates go down before the ones at Canal, or did just the lights and bells start earlier? It wouldn't surprise me if High St had a longer delay before the gates go down, to allow traffic to clear the crossing.
  by BostonUrbEx
I doubt there was a crossing tender at 1:25am, I believe the hours are approximately 6:00am to 10:00pm. I don't know the exact hours off hand, but that's just a ballpark.

Also, there's no northbound deadhead on the New Hampshire Route at that time. If it wasn't actually a southbound then it likely was a PTC Test Extra.
  by petahgriff8316
BostonUrbEx wrote:I doubt there was a crossing tender at 1:25am, I believe the hours are approximately 6:00am to 10:00pm. I don't know the exact hours off hand, but that's just a ballpark.
There was a car parked there, so I'm not sure why it would be there if one was not on duty. Either way, I can say definitively that I saw one there the other night at 11:25 p.m., as he came out when 689 activated the crossing gates and flagged the crossing as it came through. He remained there until after the 12:26 a.m. train, which as I said in earlier posts I found odd (and unnecessary IMHO - not on his part, but on Keolis/the MBTA's part for having him there at that hour).
BostonUrbEx wrote: Also, there's no northbound deadhead on the New Hampshire Route at that time. If it wasn't actually a southbound then it likely was a PTC Test Extra.
I'll recant this -- upon reflection it was indeed a southbound train so you may well be right. Regardless, I still stand by my observation of the guard being there well past 11 p.m. and through at least 12:26 a.m. on one of the previous nights.
Last edited by CRail on Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total. Reason: Irrelivent content removed.
  by CRail
The occupancy of the train (whether it's an in service or non-revenue train) has no bearing on the crossing or its safety. It's possible that if the PTC extra was out, they hired the position due to the number of crossings taking place at a time when people wouldn't be expecting them. This is also a high foot-traffic area, especially in the summer with adolescents wandering about at all hours, so it's probably beneficial to have someone present to reinforce the automatic warning system that gets disregarded so often.
  by BandA
its probably a requirement written somewhere between the railroad & the town. Waltham still had a crossing tender at Moody St. ~~1987, despite gates & bells & flashing lights.
  by CRail
It also has to do with it being a quiet zone.
  by Arborwayfan
A few years ago I got to ride the cab from Lowell to North Station. The engineer told me that the crossing guard was required by the town under the terms of the original railroad charter, which was still in force and which none of the later owners of the Boston and Lowell had been able to convince the town to change. I supposed there is no particular reason that a locomotive engineer to know the legal reason for a crossing tender to exist, and he could have been wrong, but I have mostly assumed he was right ever since 1992, when I got that cab ride.
  by Arlington
At West Medford there's just two side platforms, no central fence, and a single point at which passengers are supposed to walk from one side to the other.

1) Why is there not a fence down the centerline of such a station to stop people from walking across the rails/ballast to get from one side to the other? (particularly the walk from the "evening" platform back to the "morning" side where they parked/live) Why isn't more done to force people on to the "expected" crossing? Is W Medford uniquely-unfenced because it is a clearance route?

2) At the expected crossing, there are "inserts" between the rails that allow someone/wheelchairs to change sides with a minimum of "friction" from the grooves where the flanges extend below the railhead. These used to have a highly-reflective edge, that a train's headlights would easily catch (and be retro-reflected). How important/helpful to safety is that reflective edge (seems its purpose is to say, from a long way off, "here is ground-zero for where people will cross the tracks"). (If the reflection is gone, will Keolis or somebody come to restore it as we enter the "dark commute" time of year?)

3) What are the rules for trains entering stations where there's already a train stopped? What's the definition of "already stopped" (recently stopped?)