Jehochman wrote:I think this is the crux of the disaster, and the response will be mandatory grade separation when there is 3rd rail, or some sort of design change that anchors that third rail head in place so well that it can be dislodged, such as a big concrete pylon.
The recommendation can be made but mandatory grade separation is unlikely. As noted, this is not the only crossing of third rail tracks in the country. Closing them all would not be trivial.
Burring the end of the rail would work better than a pylon that would become yet another object in the way of an accident. With a shoe under rail design one would not be able to simply turn down the rail at the ends ... the rails would need to be bent away from the tracks and then down. A design where when (not if) a vehicle or a derailed train goes across the end of the third rail it goes up and over the rail and skids on top of the rail instead of collecting the end of the rail.
The closest idea to a pylon that I can imagine working would be the end of a Jersey barrier ramped down and buried to lift a vehicle up before it hit the exposed end of the rails. It would not need to be a full height barrier ... just enough to lift an object or dragging gear higher than the third rail.