Questions that you've always been too embarrassed to ask

 
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

LX protection:

Does the presence of boom gates actually have any physical effect, ie would a boom gate hold back a car (at a suitably low speed - high speed no way of course)?  Or is the protection more of a mental one that encourages a greater precautionary response from drivers?
james.au
It's a visual barrier, not a physical barrier - and designed to break off if a motor vehicle runs into it.  

A signalling engineer in Victoria told me of a level crossing where there were a number of near misses or collisions with trucks when the LC was fitted just with lights, all blamed on "brake failure". As soon as boom barriers were in place miraculously there were no more brake failures, and no road/train collisions. So, anecdotally the visual barrier is effective.

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  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
The Ardglen Bankers are manned, with the coupler release rod chained up. The air is not through from the train to the bankers.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: WW1 ended with Treaty of Versailles 28 June 1919
One thing I have been too scared / embarrassed to ask for a long time, for fear of an angry response, is to ask about level crossing smashes as someone will probably say the truck driver has to be vigilant, but the reality in the real world is the vehicle driver is a human so normal lapses in concentration will occur.  

The reality is modern 1.5 km freighters consist of a string of container flats and sometimes these include many empty wagons per train. My question is how come there are not more level crossing smashes especially as empty container wagons are low and flat and not always brightly lit at night. I don't give much credit to the reflectors on the wagons being of much use revealing the train to a truck driver approaching the level crossing at night at 100 kph.

It is a genuine question and not meant to stir an angry anti truck driver response.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Petan - I reckon that's a good question. I'd never thought of the problem of empties and visibility thereof at a crossing, particularly at night.

(As an aside, a bizarre sight at Seymour was the passage of a freighter beside SRHC, where there was long grass beside the track. A line of empties, which were hidden by the grass, could be followed by a loaded wagon, and there was the sight of a seemingly disembodied container whizzing along at grass top level.)
  sthyer Deputy Commissioner

One thing I have been too scared / embarrassed to ask for a long time, for fear of an angry response, is to ask about level crossing smashes as someone will probably say the truck driver has to be vigilant, but the reality in the real world is the vehicle driver is a human so normal lapses in concentration will occur.  

The reality is modern 1.5 km freighters consist of a string of container flats and sometimes these include many empty wagons per train. My question is how come there are not more level crossing smashes especially as empty container wagons are low and flat and not always brightly lit at night. I don't give much credit to the reflectors on the wagons being of much use revealing the train to a truck driver approaching the level crossing at night at 100 kph.

It is a genuine question and not meant to stir an angry anti truck driver response.
petan
The rail industry response is AS7531 Lighting and Visibility. In years gone by, rakes of dirty freight wagons with no side reflectors probably didn't get easily seen by the road vehicle headlights of the time. Thus, collisions occurred. These days, while there are processes for assessing relative dangers of level crossings and the fitment of side reflectors to rail vehicles, plus better road vehicle headlights, vigilance is always going to be part of the risk assessment for level crossings. If we assume there is no vigilance, then level crossings are an unacceptable risk and need to be all replaced. But to continue that logic, stop and give way signs aren't any better defence if there is no vigilance by the driver.

Perhaps the reason that there are not more smashes at level crossing in the scenario you describe is because of a combination of the above safety improvements.

The next industry upgrade being discussed / tested is radio warnings. For those who have been through various road tunnels in Australia, you will have discovered that the road operator can broadcast over your radio to give safety warnings. A similar system is proposed for level crossings.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

One thing I have been too scared / embarrassed to ask for a long time, for fear of an angry response, is to ask about level crossing smashes as someone will probably say the truck driver has to be vigilant, but the reality in the real world is the vehicle driver is a human so normal lapses in concentration will occur.  
petan
It is true that drivers on the road (of all vehicles) need to make sure a crossing is clear before entering it. That's a basic fact, no need for anyone on either side of the issue to get angry.

The idea of the Safe System (Australia's national road safety strategy) is to create a forgiving transport system which avoids getting as far as the blame game as often as possible.

My question is how come there are not more level crossing smashes especially as empty container wagons are low and flat and not always brightly lit at night.
petan
Australian rail operators have known about this for quite some time. Back in Australian National days there were already policies requiring the distribution of containers along the train to avoid having long strings of empty wagons.

The modern operators seem to be pretty good at filling backhaul capacity. The intermodal trains I see in SA rarely have more than a handful of empty wagons in a row, even on the trains going the 'wrong' direction.

If it were more of an issue, I think we would quickly see some sort of equivalent to trucks' running lights used on empty container wagons. It wouldn't be hard to design some kind of light on a stalk at driver's eye level which could be mounted using the hardware normally used for securing containers.

I don't give much credit to the reflectors on the wagons being of much use revealing the train to a truck driver approaching the level crossing at night at 100 kph.
petan
Correct move there, reflective strips don't work when they are covered by grime.

Bean counters only see the cost of keeping locos and wagons clean, not the value.

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