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Something like this happened in the UK once.... | 197 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Something like this happened in the UK once....
Authored by: tiger99 on Friday, September 14 2012 @ 06:07 PM EDT
Wikipedia

The vehicle was somewhat larger, and the train speed much higher, but there was no excuse for the conduct of some of those involved, including the police escort.

It could happen again, because in the UK, level crossings are the only places on the railway which are not proved to be clear before setting th signals to allow trains to proceed. The only protection is the assumption that all road vehicles will clear the crossing within the set time. As a designer of safety systems, I have to say that a system like that, used extensively worldwide, not just in the UK, is fundamentally unsafe, as it relies totally on all road users clearing the crossing on time, regardless of any problems such as mechanical breakdowns, and of course gross stupidity.

In the old days, there would be a signal box with the facility to stop trains at each level crossing, and trains would not be allowed to proceed until the gates were locked against road traffic and the crossing was seen to be clear.

There are systems which are being trialled, following the apparent suicide, which killed a number of people including the innocent train driver, at Uften Nervet, which will prove that the crossing is clear of at least large objects, but these systems are still not the answer, unless they are properly interlocked with the signalling. Four aspect signalling is universal on fast UK main lines, and it needs three consecutive signals, double yellow, single yellow, and red, to actually stop a train. That takes much more than 24 seconds, so a safe, interlocked system would cause much more delay than at present to road traffic.

Railway signalling designers (I have worked in that industry) are almost always very good, and are more paranoid than any other safety critical system designers, covering all sorts of eventualities which would not be considered in other fields, yet they seem to be utterly blind to this huge hole in the safety systems, maybe because they just can't do anything about it due to other constraints.

Much the same considerations apply in Australia, but the train speeds are somewhat lower.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

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